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Dhaka Tribune

Awami League govt also wants fair polls, PM Hasina tells Britain's foreign minister

Several issues like climate, trade and commerce alongside the Rohingya came up in the bilateral meeting

Update : 07 May 2023, 10:55 AM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the Awami League (AL) government also wants free and fair elections in Bangladesh likewise the United Kingdom (UK) as its Foreign Minister James Cleverly along with his wife Susannah Sparks called on her in London.

“We also want fair elections. My party always maintains democracy in the country. We have given the country's democracy a strong footing,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen quoted her as saying while briefing reporters after their meeting on Saturday (local time).

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's younger daughter and the Bangladesh premier's only sister Sheikh Rehana, among others, was present at the meeting held at the bilateral meeting room of Sheikh Hasina's palace of residence, The Claridge Hotel.

Briefing the newsmen at the hotel, the foreign minister said the UK foreign minister has talked about the upcoming general election in Bangladesh and they want a fair election to be held in the country.

In response, the Bangladesh prime minister said: “We are committed to hold a fair election. It requires participation of all and I want cooperation from all to hold a fair poll.”

She said the Awami League government has done everything required to hold a fair election that includes introducing a voter list with photographs and transparent ballot boxes as none can manipulate the polls.

On the contrary, the BNP had prepared a voter list with 12.3 million fake voters for rigging votes during its tenure, she said.

“We have made the Election Commission (EC) as independent and powerful enough alongside bringing institutional frameworks to hold a fair election,” she added.

The prime minister said they believe in Westminster like democracy following which Bangladesh has introduced a question-answer session.

During the meeting, several bilateral issues like climate, trade and commerce alongside the Rohingya have come up for the talks prominently among others issues, Momen said.

The UK foreign minister has highly praised the humanitarian role of Bangladesh premier for sheltering a huge number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh.

“Britain will remain beside Bangladesh for quick repatriation of Rohingyas,” he said.

Momen said the British government has taken a bill on the Rohingya issue in the Security Council and played an effective role to pass the resolution.

The UK foreign minister also expressed his gratitude to the Bangladesh premier as she joined the coronation of King Charles III.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has a very good relationship with the UK since Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrived in London after being released from the Pakistani jail following the country's independence and was warmly received there.

The UK foreign minister said: “Relations between Bangladesh and the UK is very deep-rooted and it is being further consolidated as the days approaches and the relationship has been strengthened over the years.”  

He lauded the economic advancement of Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina.  

The Bangladesh premier has highly praised the late Queen Elizabeth II recalling that the queen had always inquired about her and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana. 

Momen said Sheikh Hasina also had interactions with King Charles III during the Commonwealth Leaders' Event while she invited the king to visit Bangladesh and the king replied positively.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, PM's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah, PM's Speechwriter M Nazrul Islam and Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida  Muna Tasneem, among others, were present at the briefing.

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