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Parliamentary elections: Tainted polls, says EU as US finds people’s faith undermined in electoral process

  • Published at 06:08 pm January 1st, 2019
WEB_women voters_Mehedi Hasan
Female voters stand in queue to cast their vote at polling center in Dhaka on December 30 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Both Brussels and Washington have called for addressing the allegations of irregularities properly and transparently

The European Union (EU) has described the controversial 11th parliamentary polls held on Sunday as tainted while the US has said that obstructing people from voting undermined people’s faith in the electoral process.

Both Brussels and Washington have called for addressing the allegations of irregularities properly and transparently.

Meanwhile, senior Foreign Ministry officials concerned said that Dhaka would respond to the reactions of the EU and the US in due time.

“Parliamentary elections took place in Bangladesh on December 30, 2018. Preliminary results were communicated by the Bangladesh Election Commission,” said a statement issued on Tuesday night by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service, which deals with the EU’s foreign affairs.

 “The mobilisation of voters and the participation of the opposition in the elections for the first time in 10 years reflect the aspirations of the people of Bangladesh to democracy,” it said.

“However, violence has marred the election day, and significant obstacles to a level playing field remained in place throughout the process and have tainted the electoral campaign and the vote,” it added.

“The relevant national authorities should now ensure a proper examination of allegations of irregularities and commit to full transparency in their resolution,” the statement further said.

“The European Union expects the country to move forward towards democracy, respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We will continue to support the work in this context, in the interest of the people of Bangladesh,” it concluded.

Meanwhile, in another in a press statement on Tuesday night, US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said: “The US commends the tens of millions of Bangladeshis who voted in Bangladesh’s 11th parliamentary election on December 30, 2018, as well as the decision of all major opposition political parties to participate, a positive development after the boycotted election of 2014.” 

“The United States remains deeply invested in the future of Bangladesh and its democratic development. The United States is Bangladesh’s largest foreign investor, largest single-country market for Bangladeshi exports, and home to a large community of Americans of Bangladeshi origin,” said the statement.

“In this light, we note with concern credible reports of harassment, intimidation, and violence in the pre-election period that made it difficult for many opposition candidates and their supporters to meet, hold rallies, and campaign freely. We are also concerned that election-day irregularities prevented some people from voting, which undermined faith in the electoral process,” it added.

“We strongly encourage all parties to refrain from violence and request the Election Commission work constructively with all sides to address claims of irregularities. Bangladesh’s impressive record of economic development and respect for democracy and human rights are mutually reinforcing, and we look forward to continue working with the ruling government and opposition towards advancing these interrelated goals,” it further said.

When contacted, senior foreign ministry officials concerned told the Dhaka Tribune that the statements were expected, but they did not think the language used would be so strong.

In due time, Bangladesh will respond to these statements, they added.

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