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Dhaka Tribune

Envoy: US does not favour any Bangladesh party over another

All key actors must play their roles to ensure free and fair polls in Bangladesh, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas says

Update : 08 Nov 2022, 08:38 PM

The United States does not care who wins the election in Bangladesh as it does not favour any party over another, but Washington cares about there being a free and fair election, United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas has said.

The ambassador was speaking at a views-exchange meeting with the Editors' Council on Tuesday. 

The meeting was held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in the capital. The program was moderated by President of the Editors' Council and Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, and attended by Editor of Prothom Alo Matiur Rahman, Editor of Daily Manab Zamin Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, Editor of Ajker Patrika Golam Rahman, Editor of Bhorer Kagoj Shyamal Dutta, Editor of Daily Ittefaq Tasmima Hossain, Editor of Inqilab AMM Bahauddin, acting editor of Daily Samakal Mozammel Hossain, Editor of Bonik Barta Dewan Hanif Mahmud, Editor of Financial Express Shamsul Huq Zahid, acting editor of Desh Rupantor Mustafa Mamun and Associate Editor of Dhaka Tribune Abu Sayeed Asiful Islam.

Aambassador Haas said all entities in Bangladesh must play a proper role to ensure free and fair polls.

He emphasized the importance of a free press in ensuring free and fair elections, stating that polls start far earlier than the actual day of voting in the form of level playing fields for all.

The editors spoke to the ambassador about the challenges faced by the media not only due to stringent laws but also due to the effects of media ownership.

The ambassador said in the US there is constant pressure and debate to ensure transparency regarding violations of rights, and that there are institutions to work on them.

Speaking about the economic crisis faced by Bangladesh due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the ambassador stated that there is no country better off today than they were before Russia invaded Ukraine, but some countries are impacted more.

He talked about how to transform the foreign assistance relationship between the two countries to make it coincide with Bangladesh's graduation to a middle-income country.

The ambassador spoke about sectors needing additional assistance like high-level skills training and diversifying the export basket.

He said while it is important to focus on how to retain trade benefits shared by the two countries, it is also important to think about the next step. To that end he highlighted the need to create conditions needed for foreign direct investment.

The ambassador said the US International Development Finance Corporation provides private sector investment in infrastructure, innovation and women's economic empowerment, but it is governed by some of the same principles as the generalized system of preferences (GSP) to which Bangladesh lost access.

While Bangladesh has made great strides in worker safety after the Rana Plaza incident, the overall labour rights situation continues to be an impediment to gaining these privileges, he said.

Ambassador Haas appreciated Bangladesh's role in opening its doors to Rohingyas without any expectation of them going back any time soon and said that the US cannot force the Myanmar junta to take back the community without risking their lives even though they need repatriation.

“We need to make sure that they are not in despair, with no hope,” he said.

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