Govt to IRI president: Doing everything to hold ‘free, fair’ polls

The government is taking all measures to ensure a free, fair and participatory national election scheduled for early 2024, a delegation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the International Republican Institute (IRI) president Thursday.

The delegation said this during a roundtable discussion with senior officials of the IRI led by its President Dr Daniel Twining.

The efforts of the government needed to be supported and complemented by all other political parties as they all have a stake in ensuring a peaceful transfer of power, it added.

The delegation also had meetings with Ambassador Donald Lu, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department, and Congressman Dwight Evans in the Capitol Hill.

Muhammad Faruk Khan, chairman of the standing committee, is leading the delegation. Other members of the team are lawmakers Nurul Islam Nahid, Nahim Razzaq, and Kazi Nabil Ahmed.

Bangladesh Ambassador to the US M Shahidul Islam and senior officials of the Embassy were present at the meetings.

During meeting with Donald Lu, the parliamentary team discussed the entire range of issues encompassing the Bangladesh-US partnership and expressed resolve to deepen bilateral engagements.

Ambassador Lu was highly appreciative of the Bangladesh government’s Covid management, terming its vaccine distribution system as “one of the best in the world.”

He viewed trade and investment, climate change, and Covid cooperation as important areas where the two countries could enhance collaboration.

The two sides discussed Bangladesh’s huge potential in the IT and ICT sectors and looked forward to expanding cooperation between the Silicon Valley and Bangladeshi hi-tech parks.

The visiting delegation sought the assistance of the Biden administration for the early deportation of Bangabandhu’s killer Rashed Chowdhury. They also raised the issue of recent US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and its senior officials.

Faruk emphasised the resumption of direct Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight between Dhaka and New York for enhanced people-to-people and business-to-business relations.

Cooperation in the area of labour rights, Bangladesh’s access to US DFC financing for larger investments in infrastructure projects, steps taken by Bangladesh to promote democracy and human rights, and the ongoing defence and security cooperation also came up for discussion.

Dwight Evans, a key member of the US House Ways and Means Committee, praised the proactive role of the Bangladeshi diaspora in developing the local community in his constituency in Philadelphia.

He assured of his continued support for the Bangladeshi American diaspora as well as a closer Bangladesh-US partnership.

The parliamentary committee appreciated the US humanitarian and political support extended to Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.

They requested Evans to continue his efforts with the US Capitol and the Biden administration to put sustained pressure on Myanmar for accepting the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.

Both sides agreed that the resumption of Dhaka-New York flight would greatly enhance people-to-people and business-to-business relations between Bangladesh and the US.

Source: United News of Bangladesh