Why the two US Under Sectaries are pleased with the Bangladesh government's commitment? By Sufian Siddique

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The US delegation led by Under Secretary Uzra Jaya returned after a four-day visit to Dhaka. Earlier, this delegation visited Dhaka last Tuesday evening. On their visit to Dhaka, they visited Cox's Bazar Rohingya camp and held meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Law Minister Anisul Haque, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman.

Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the US Department of State, led the US delegation to visit Dhaka. It was said from some quarters that the US delegation would increase the pressure on the government by coming to Dhaka or they might directly interfere in the elections and express their displeasure with the government. And these issues were promoted in the media quite strongly. BNPO was very excited about this visit. Because for the past two years, the US Ambassador Peter Haas has been active in supporting them, speaking as their voice. A high-level US delegation may force the government to concede to opposition demands before the last election. Such was the idea of some quarters. But in the end no such incident happened. Rather, the US representative expressed satisfaction with the government's actions regarding the elections. Under Secretary Uzra Zeya said that I have received firm commitment from the Prime Minister and others for free and fair elections.

They also expressed their satisfaction with the current political situation of the country. He said, we have observed the rally held by two political parties in Bangladesh on Wednesday and there was no incident of violence. It is a good practice and we would like to see it repeated.

Uzra Zeya clarified the fear of US interference in the dialogue. He said that the United States will not be directly involved in the dialogue between the political parties ahead of the national elections in Bangladesh. He also clarified that the United States has no such intention. In other words, many things have become clear as a result of the US delegation's visit to Dhaka. However, beyond these, the question has now arisen that the government has somehow managed the US delegation. This is now the question of millions of eager people.

According the concerned office and diplomatic analysts in this regard, it is known that the country's political issues were not in the US delegation's tour schedule. They came mainly to visit the Rohingya camps, to discuss how to work together more broadly on human rights issues in Bangladesh. Regarding elections, the United States has said from the beginning that it wants free and fair elections. And in this regard, the government has already been saying that the government is determined to have a free and fair election. And they said that the US delegation got that assurance in the meeting with the concerned parties. However, responsible sources confirmed that there was no discussion on caretaker government structure in these meetings. But ultimately what the role is in the US remains to be seen.

After a meeting with foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen at State Guest House Padma in the capital Dhaka US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya said Bangladesh is firmly committed to hold free, fair and peaceful elections. She also said Washington does not have involvement in dialogues among political parties in Bangladesh. 

Ahead of the arrival of high-power American diplomats, a six-member Election Exploratory Mission of the European Union also visited Bangladesh. They also sat down with the election commission to evaluate the prospects of a fair and free general election in Bangladesh.

They shared what they observed during the recent (local government) elections in the country and also informed (the EU mission) about the capacity of the EC and the assistance given by the government. The EU has urged all political parties to participate in the election process stressing that violence should be avoided at all costs.

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated her commitment to hold free, fair and neutral election in the country while Uzra Zeya called on her at her official residence Ganabhaban in the city. Country’s people believe that the next national polls will be held in a free, fair, impartial and credible manner under the ruling Awami League-led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

Bangladesh is an independent and a sovereign country. An independent and sovereign country like Bangladesh will never bow down to any external interference. However, Bangladesh always welcomes constructive suggestions from foreign friends. Bangladesh faced obstacles and conspiracies time and again, but it has successfully overcome these.

Like previous general elections, the next one will also be held in line with the provisions of the Constitution. The next national election will be held on time to uphold the continuation of the democratic trend in the country. People will choose their respective candidates and cast votes in favour of them. 

The party which will get the people’s vote will form the next government. This is the trend, and it will continue. But Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its like-minded parties are out to make Bangladesh a failed state centring the next general elections at any cost.

BNP’s demand for dissolving parliament ahead of the next general election is a plot. Their target is to create a constitutional crisis in the country. Therefore, all will have to stay alert.

Now questions arise will the people join BNP to topple the government? Do they really need to topple Sheikh Hasina and hand over the power to some tested party like BNP or some new parties?

 

People had tasted a government of BNP which ruled the country for two terms in 1991-96 and 2001-06. People now seriously compare all the indices of the country, where they were during the terms of BNP and where are these now under the ruling Awami League which has been in power for the fourth terms including the current consecutive thirds (from 2009 to till to date). It ruled the country in its first term in 1996 - 2001.

It seems that general people, except the political activists, are not interested in political campaigns which are likely to stop their works, spark violence like in the past until early 2015, in which hundreds of people were killed, thousands maimed and huge properties were destroyed.

 

The general mass including the manufacturers, businesspersons, working people, who have been able  to upgrade their economic and social conditions over the last 14 years, want to vote but probably do not like outdoor political campaigns like hartal, public meetings, street marches, human-chains etc.

 

There is a rumor that the United States has taken a stand against Bangladesh. I am here to deepen the US relationship with Bangladesh. To discuss how to make a free and tolerant Indo-Pacific region more secure and prosperous.

Free and fair elections were discussed with the Bangladesh government. I have received a firm commitment from the Prime Minister and others for free and fair elections. We want journalists to be able to spread news freely without fear.

Meanwhile, Uzra Jair had only a meeting with the government in this visit. There were rumors about a meeting with BNP but it did not happen in the end. After last January, none of the representatives who came from the United States met with the BNP in any official meeting.

 

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