Mentioning that they have no favourite party or political personality in Bangladesh, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat said her government just expect to see fair polls in Bangladesh.
“We hope to see election fairly run [here], and run well. We, like other embassies, are meeting with different political parties, certainly the major two parties, to better understand the election condition here,” she told reporters after attending a civil rights panel discussion at the EMK Center in Dhanmondi, Dhaka on Wednesday.
The ambassador further said: “The US government has no favourite party and it has no favoured political personage in Bangladesh. Who is elected to lead the government is the choice of the Bangladeshi people."
The Public Affairs wing of the US Embassy in Dhaka and the EMK Center jointly organized the discussion marking the African-American History Month.
Noting that what the US cares about is the election process in Bangladesh, Bernicat said: “We both are democratic parties. We have democratic rules and the fundamental basic of democracy is people who have the right to choose and change their government. So for us, it's a matter of process. If the process is truly representative and fair, then you have the basis for stability... It's your job to choose the individuals and party to run your government.”
She said her country believed that democracy is the best foundation for stability and sustainable and strong economic development.
Asked about her observation on the next general election in Bangladesh when the top leader of a major party is in jail, Bernicat said: “I've joined other voices who have called for a free, fair, credible and inclusive election.”
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She disagreed with a journalist's question that one party is unilaterally carrying out campaign for the next polls, and said both the parties have long been carrying out the campaign that will intensify in the months to come. "I know Bangladesh has an official campaign period."
The US envoy focused on holding the next national election in a peaceful manner as the past elections were featured with violence. “People especially outside Dhaka are really tired of violence, mainly surrounding the elections."
Strong steps should be taken so no one can create violence in the name of election, political process and religion, she stressed.
She also said a congenial atmosphere must be created so voters can go to the polling stations and cast their votes on the voting day.
The US ambassador said people's ability to assemble peacefully for registering their protest, meet privately or ensuring the right of the candidates of any party to carry out the campaign is important for a fair election atmosphere. “If any party doesn't have the ability to do that, it will have an impact on the election.”
Besides, she said, if the candidates, including minorities and women, are intimidated not to file their candidature or engage in other election activities, it will also have an impact on the election.
Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's statement at her party's national council that the next election would be held in a manner so no one can raise questions about it, the US envoy said she believed the 11th parliamentary election would held in a credible manner maintaining the standard.
On the Rohingya issue, she said this serious problem is not losing world attention as the international media are still giving good coverage to the issue. “I don't think the international attention and support are going to fade regarding the Rohingya issue.”
Bernicat said her government and the international community were looking for ways to help improve the situation and ensure the safe return of Rohingyas to their home in Myanmar.
“Their [Rohingyas] desire is consistent: they want to go home, and their home is in Myanmar. The world is working to ensure their safe return in a dignified manner."
The US envoy also said Bangladesh and its all friends were working to mount pressure on Myanmar to resolve the problem and create a situation so Rohingyas can return home.
Replying to a question, she said Washington's designation of “ISIS-Bangladesh” as foreign terrorists does not indicate the existence of terrorist outfit here.
“The designation is not about saying ISIS is here... these groups have individuals who have declared or claimed their violent acts in the name of ISIS,” she added.
The US envoy said they had done it to strengthen the ability of their legal system and the government to investigate and prosecute people who are aiding and abetting terrorism.