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Dhaka Tribune

Why US has set new election standards for Bangladesh

Geopolitics or the relationship between the US and other countries including China and India and vice versa with Bangladesh affects the relationship between Dhaka and Washington

Update : 15 Apr 2023, 07:50 PM

The US had always talked about the national elections in Bangladesh, saying it wanted “free, fair and acceptable elections”. But during the meeting between Foreign Minister Dr AK Abul Momen and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on April 10, the latter raised the bar for national elections, which is likely to be held in December or January. 

Now Washington is saying that the whole world, including the US, is looking at the elections in Bangladesh. In addition to this, the country says about the new criteria for the election -- setting a strong example of free and fair elections for the region and the world.

The issue has attracted the attention of many analysts. According to them, in this new narrative, the US has set the benchmark for Bangladesh's elections much higher, which could have far-reaching implications.

Former ambassador of Bangladesh to Washington Humayun Kabir said: “The democratic government of the United States is always interested in free and fair elections.”

Bangladesh is a Muslim-dominated country and “if free, fair, acceptable and participatory elections are held here, it will be possible for the United States to show it as an example to other countries. In this case, the US government can also take some credit and this is because they have always campaigned or supported this issue.”

2008 election

After the free, fair and acceptable elections in 2008, Bangladesh's importance to the whole world increased a lot. Humayun Kabir said: “I was the ambassador to Washington at that time and many people asked me how Bangladesh managed to hold such a beautiful election.”

The Biden administration has a global campaign on democracy and the country wants to promote that free and fair elections are possible in Muslim countries like Bangladesh, he said.

'The whole world is watching'

The US leads the Western world and its views are reflected in the attitudes of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.

Former foreign secretary and Bangabandhu Chair Professor of Delhi University Shahidul Haque said: “It is a doctrine and ideology match. The United States is a proponent of the Washington Consensus where democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech and other values are given importance. The countries of the Western world follow the same way of thinking.”

PID

As a result, when the US say something, many other countries make similar statements or comments, Shahidul said, adding: “When Anthony Blinken says – ‘the whole world is watching', it should be understood that the attitude of other countries is roughly the same.”

He said from his own experience: “Even if the views or statements of all countries in the Western world are not of the same level, the main content is the same.”

Geopolitics

Viewing the relationship between Bangladesh and the US only in a bilateral frame does not provide the overall picture, Shahidul said. 

Geopolitics or the relationship between the US and other countries including China and India and vice versa with Bangladesh affects the relationship between Dhaka and Washington.

Balance is always important in geopolitics and Bangladesh has always maintained it, he said. 

“Elections are the most important event in any democratic country. When the US gives a new explanation about the election of Bangladesh, it should be understood that the country is analyzing the importance of Bangladesh in a new way.”

Bangladesh is now much stronger economically and its political leadership is much more mature than at any other time. As a result, the former foreign secretary believes that the Western world has high expectations for Bangladesh.

He said: “Now we have been promoted to new Bangladesh. As a result, it is natural that there will be a new analysis of the whole world of Bangladesh. I am optimistic that Bangladesh will keep pace with the new global expectations.”

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