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World wants to see participatory elections in Bangladesh: EU

The European Union has expressed the hope that Bangladesh will hold a democratic, credible, peaceful and participatory parliamentary elections.

“The entire world wants to see a democratic, credible, peaceful and participatory elections in Bangladesh,” EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley said.

He was talking to reporters after leading a 10-member delegation of EU’s Missions in Bangladesh at a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal and his colleagues at Election Commission Secretariat in Dhaka on Wednesday over the coming 12th parliamentary election slated for January 7.

The EU Ambassador said they had an extensive discussion with the Election Commission over the coming 12th parliamentary elections.

“We’ve a detailed discussion on the parliamentary election. We have learnt about the overall preparations about the election. We hope that the election will be democratic, credible, peaceful and participatory. The entire world also wants to see it,” he said.

At that time, Ambassador Whitley declined to accept any question from journalists. However, when reporters asked him whether he had discussed about the election environment, he went out of the Election Commission Secretariat thanking them only.

Apart from Kazi Habibul Awal, the two-hour long meeting was attended by Election Commissioners and other senior officials of the EC. Besides, the diplomats of seven Dhaka-based EU member states were present at the meeting.

Later, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) talked to reporters and said they are trying their best to ensure a free, fair, peaceful and credible election.

“As we did in the past, we clearly told them (EU team) that we continue our best efforts so that the election would be free, fair, peaceful and credible,” he said.

He said the EC has already come a long way in the preparations for January 7 parliamentary vote.

The country’s main opposition BNP and its allies have refused to take part in the election saying it will be rigged by the ruling Awami League.

The opposition demands that the government resigns and transfer power to a neutral caretaker administration to oversee the polls, a demand rejected by AL.

The CEC said they gave them a clear understanding that the EC is constitutionally obliged to hold the election within the stipulated time.

“I believe that they understood our limitations. If there is any dispute and division in the political arena, we can no way intervene into it,” he said.

The EU delegation included Dr Bernd Spanier, deputy head of mission, EU Delegation to Bangladesh, Sebastian Riger-Brown, political officer, EU Delegation to Bangladesh, Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexandra Berg Von Linde, Spanish Ambassador Francisco de Asís Benítez Salas, Italian Ambassador Antonio Alessandro, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands Irma van Dueren, Ambassador of Denmark Christian Brix Møller, Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy Gillaume Audren de Kerdrel, Deputy Head of Mission, Chargé d’Affaires at Embassy of Germany Jan Janowski.