Ambassador Bernicat says criticism part and parcel of healthy democracy
Outgoing US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat on Thursday hoped that the city corporation and general elections will be held in a "free, fair, credible, and inclusive" manner.
"We always advocate for free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections," she told reporters.
After her meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda, the US envoy said in every democracy there are examples of irregularities that occur in elections and their goal is to improve that process.
She said she is always hopeful and optimistic about Bangladesh as the country has a history of holding free, fair, and credible elections.
"We talked about a wide range of issues involving elections," Bernicat said. "This is an ongoing discussion."
The US envoy, who was recently criticized for commenting on Bangladesh election issues, said criticism is part and parcel of healthy democracy. "Freedom of speech and freedom to assemble are fundamental rights that both of our constituencies guarantee."
Bernicat said: "You have the right to say that US Ambassador does not know what she is talking about. That's the beauty of democracy."
She said her government responded that she is not speaking for herself but for the US government.
Bernicat had earlier lauded the Khulna and Gazipur city polls but expressed concerns about reports of election "irregularities, including ballot box stuffing, intimidation" of political players and polling agents.
She also expressed satisfaction over the lower level of violence and wider participation of political parties in the elections.