AL’s Tofail asks US envoy to play a role in bringing all parties to polls under Hasina administration

AL’s Tofail asks US envoy to play a role in bringing all parties to polls under Hasina administration.

Reacting to the US envoy’s recent comments stressing an all-inclusive election, senior Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed asks the diplomat to ‘play the role’ in bringing all parties in the polls under the Sheikh Hasina-led administration.

Tofail & Barnicat

Citing examples of the US, UK and Australia, where the elections are held under the government of the day, he said: “All of us want to have a participatory election. We want that all the political parties will participate in the election”.

Commerce Minister Ahmed’s remarks came on Thursday, when he was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the US trade show, attended by US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat.

“I hope you will play the role so that all the political parties participate in the elections under the present government and on the basis of the Constitution,” he said adding it was in response to Bernicat’s recent statements of the US wanting to see a free, fair, participatory and inclusive election.

“I don’t know whether it was proper for me to say this”, added Ahmed, a member of the ruling party’s Advisory Council.

The BNP has been demanding a neutral government during the next polls after boycotting the 2014 election for the demand for a caretaker government.

The ruling Awami League, including its chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has made it clear that the elections would be held with the current administration in office.

Speaking on Thursday, senior Cabinet member Ahmed said “In Bangladesh, the present government will remain in power and will carry out day to day activities. It is the Election Commission who will perform the responsibilities,” he said, adding that the elections would be “neutral and credible”.

Referring to the British envoy’s similar comments, Ahmed said, “I’ll request them [US, UK] to pursue all the political parties so that they participate in the next general elections which will be credible, which will be neutral and free and fair.”

Describing the US as ‘the most democratic country in the world’, the commerce minister said there have been allegations of rigging and demands of a recount from some areas during the 2016 presidential elections.

Following the inauguration ceremony, members of the media sought a comment from Ambassador Bernicat, when she evaded a direct answer.

“I would only add to what the minister said to say that free and fair elections actually are conditions that have to exist all the time, not just on the day people vote,” she said.

The envoy said the goal is to make sure “everyone here can participate, everyone can hold rally, everyone can hold meetings indoors and in their own homes and free flow of political activity, peaceful activity”.

“These are the values we share with Bangladesh to have a true free, fair, participatory and credible process.”

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh or AmCham with the support of the US Embassy in Dhaka is hosts the US trade show since 1992 when the bilateral trade was only $1 billion. The two-way trade is now over $7 billion.

More than 150 US companies represented by 43 exhibitors from home and abroad will exhibit their products in the three-day show at the Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel. The companies range from agricultural products, consumer goods to car makers.

The US embassy also opened a booth with the representatives from the USAID, Education USA, US Department of Agriculture, consular affairs team and the commercial section.

The show will remain open for visitors from 10am to 8pm. The entry fee is Tk 30 per person. But students in uniform or identity cards are exempted from entry fee.