The European Union has decided not to deploy election observation mission in the 11th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh due by January 28, 2019.
The European External Action Service of the European Union explained its stand to the Election Commission in a diplomatic note via Bangladesh embassy in Brussels on September 27 in response to a letter the commission sent on December 18, 2017 inviting the European Union to observe the elections.
A copy of the note verbale was handed over to the commission on Thursday when a seven-member delegation led by EU ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink meet the chief election commissioner and four other commissioners, election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam told New Age.
‘Respect for democratic standards and human rights are an important part of EU relations with its partners,’ the note varbale said, adding that the European Union would follow with attention the next parliamentary elections and encourage the government to ensure credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
‘The EU decided not to deploy an EU Election Observation Mission for the upcoming Bangladeshi elections,’ it said.
It, however, said that the European Union would deploy an Election Expert Mission composed of two experts to the electoral process and provide recommendations.
Rensje Teerink told reporters after the meeting that the expert mission would be sent at the end of November.
‘During this mission, the experts will seek to meet relevant authorities responsible for the electoral process, the judiciary, political parties and candidates, civil society organisations among others, said the note varbale.
‘The experts will maintain strict impartiality in their activities and assessment, and will not interfere in the electoral process,’ it said, adding, ‘They will not make any public declaration or comments on the electoral process.’
Asked about EU stand, election commissioner Rafiqul Islam said, ‘The EC has no headache on it.’
He said that the commission would welcome all local and international observers if they came under the law and it would never influence anybody to observe the elections.
At a press conference, commission secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said that the commission told the EU delegation that schedule for the next general elections would be announced in the first week of November.
Replying to a query, he the secretary said that the EU delegation wanted to see free, fair, inclusive, transparent and participatory elections in Bangladesh.
The delegation was assured by the commission that all necessary measures would be taken in this regard, he said.
The commission secretary said that the EU team expressed interest to know about Electronic Voting Machine, election observer, manpower and capacity of the commission, law enforcement agencies, the process of voting from abroad and electoral roll.
British high commissioner Alison Blake, ambassador of Spain Alvaro da Salas Gimenez de Azcarate, ambassador of Sweden Charlotta Schlyter, France ambassador Marrie-Annick Bourdin and ambassador of Denmark Winnie Estrup Petersen attended the EU delegation meeting with the commission at the Nirbachon Bhavan in Dhaka.
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