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Bangladesh itself to fix ways for congenial election atmosphere: Haas

31 May 2022, 8:20:59

United States (US) Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas today said Bangladesh itself would need to find ways to ensure a congenial atmosphere for upcoming general elections with the key-stakeholders including government, election commission, media and civil society and the people .

“It is up to Bangladesh to decide how it’s going to create those (free and fair election) conditions,” he said while speaking at “DCAB talk” at Jatiya Press Club here.

Asked for comments about the next year’s election, Haas said recently he spoke about importance of having free, fair and transparent elections in Bangladesh under international standards “where the people of Bangladesh have the right and the ability to freely elect their leaders”.

During the poll, he said, the role of election commission, freedom of press and lack of violence would be very important to make the election free and fair.

Sanction on RAB

Replaying another query on how the sanctions against Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and on some of its officials would be withdrawn, the envoy said, the US by now asked for basically two things – RAB’s accountability and prevent recurrence of human right abuses in future.

“It’s not really a question of providing the list of things that must be accomplished It is not about specifics,” he said adding that it is about the underlined principles of commitment to human rights and commitment to accountability.

Haas said the Biden Administration put human rights issue in centre of its foreign policy and that results the imposition of sanctions.

“The US is decided to put human rights, the issues of the freedom of the press at the center of our foreign policy, and that we make no excuse about that,” Haas said.

Indo Pacific Economic Framework

On May 23, in Tokyo US President Biden launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) for Prosperity with 12 other couturiers – Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – those together represent 40 percent of world GDP.

Responding to a question regarding Bangladesh’s chance to join the new economic framework, the ambassador said, the US first started consulting with Bangladesh foreign ministry about IPEF in March by sharing information in the bilateral dialogues in privately.

The US envoy said there will be opportunities for other countries to join in IPEF and hoped that “Bangladesh will follow it (IPEF) closely”.

Haas said the IPEF is a new concept that seeks to start negotiations and discussions on four key pillars – supply chain resilience that hard hit by COVID-19 and Ukraine war; clean energy and de-carbonization; check corruption; and digital trade and emerging technologies.

“So it is definitely something, I think all four of these issues are issues that Bangladesh trusted in,” said Haas.

Killer Rashed Chowdhury

Hass said the US is very much aware about Bangladesh’s demand to send back Rashed Chowdhury, one of the fugitive convicted killers of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is now residing in the US.

“Basically it is very complicated legal proceeding of the United States; but it currently remains in the review (with US count),” he said.

The ambassador said Bangladesh and the US are already moving away from a relationship based on assistance to one that emphasizes mutually beneficial trade.

“The US should remain the same steadfast partner to Bangladesh for the next fifty years as it has been over the past fifty years,” he said.

Haas said Washington is willing to go as fast as Bangladesh is to deepen the partnership between the two countries.

DCAB president Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke.

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