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Free, fair, peaceful elections incredibly important: US Dy Asst Secy

US Deputy Assistant Secretary Afreen Akhter has stressed the importance of “free and fair” elections in Bangladesh during her discussion with Bangladesh government officials.

Talking to reporters, she highlighted that the elections need to be held in a peaceful manner.
“We believe it is incredibly important that elections are conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner to support Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s stated commitment,” said the US official on Tuesday.

Afreen, who did not make any comment after her meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Monday in Dhaka, said they also discussed allowing space for the civil society, media and all other actors to engage in the democratic process freely.

“We have discussed a wide range of issues including on broad multifaceted relationship with Bangladesh which includes economic growth, trade and investment, our longstanding development partnership, women’s economic empowerment and a whole host of other issues,” she said.

“Bangladesh and the United States want free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner,” said the US Embassy in Dhaka after Akhter’s meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present.

They discussed the “strong multifaceted” bilateral relationship between the two countries and its many aspects.
The US direct investment and trade, longstanding development partnership, the Middle East, the recent visit of the independent and nonpartisan election survey team, and supporting Rohingya refugees came up for discussion.

Referring to her meeting with RRRC Mizanur Rahman on Tuesday, Akhter said any repatriation of the Rohingyas should be “voluntary, dignified and safe.”

She said there should not be any forcibly done efforts at repatriation as the conditions in Myanmar are not conducive for repatriation at the moment.

“We will continue to work closely with the government of Bangladesh and the international community to find a lasting solution that includes their safe repatriation,” Afreen said.

She appreciated Bangladesh’s efforts and its “incredible generosity” in hosting the Rohingyas. “We really appreciate the generosity.”

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled their homes in Myanmar to escape a 2017 crackdown.