Bangladesh is disheartened to see a Press Statement issued by the United States Department of State on on the upcoming National Parliamentary Elections to be held in a festive atmosphere on 30 December 2018 which is being participated by all registered political parties in the country. The election is being conducted by the Bangladesh Election Commission, which is a constitutional body and independent in the exercise of its functions.
While Bangladesh welcomes international election observers to observe the election, it certainly has the responsibility to ensure that the applicants meet all required criterion as per applicable laws and guidelines of the Election Commission. As of now, 175 foreign election observers from different countries and organizations have been accredited to undertake election monitoring missions in Bangladesh. Accreditation of international election observers from a number of organizations including ANFREL is currently under process. In addition, the Election Commission has registered 118 local organizations and also approved 25,920 local observers to monitor the polls.
In this context, the decision of ANFREL to cancel its observation mission is entirely their own despite the fact that, nearly half of its applicants have already been approved and the rest is under process.
It is noteworthy that 'Odhikar', an NGO of Bangladesh, is the founding member of ANFREL. 'Odhikar' is widely known for its disproportionate bias and prejudice against Bangladesh, in particular the government of Awami League, which is evident in its various reports including the recent ones published in October and December 2018. Besides, one of the top-ranking Bangladesh members of 'Odhikar' was earlier appointed by the BNP-Jamaat Government as the Deputy Attorney General, which provides ground for disqualification of his organization and related entities as independent and neutral observer of the national elections. It may be mentioned here that, under Section 91 (C) (1) of the Representation of the People Order 1972, the Commission is supposed to 'permit a person as election observer who is in no way associated with or affiliated to any political party or contesting candidate and who is not known for his sympathy, direct or indirect, for any particular political ideology, creed or cause or for any manifesto, program, aims or objects of any political party or contesting candidate'.
As one of the largest democracies in the world and mutually respectful to others, Bangladesh would expect and welcome constructive statements towards its democratic process from its friends and partners.
It is reiterated that Bangladesh would continue to grant credentials to eligible international and local election observers to observe the 11th National Parliamentary Elections to be held on 30 December 2018.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs