Will hold free, inclusive and credible election: Bangladesh Minister


Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abdul Momen

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abdul Momen
| Photo Credit: AFP

 Bangladesh will hold a “free, inclusive and credible election”, assured Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen here on Friday. Speaking at the end of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mr. Momen said the upcoming election would not be held under a caretaker government and said the two Prime Ministers discussed “regional peace and stability”. Sharing details about the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India had welcomed “Indo-Pacific outlook” of Bangladesh that the Sheikh Hasina government introduced earlier this year.

“An elected government should conduct election. Caretaker government was a stop-gap arrangement at one time. But that was done away through a legal process in our country and therefore it is legally forbidden in our country. We will not accept the condition of caretaker government at any cost. We will not accept the idea that someone can suddenly come and conduct our election. This is not acceptable to us according to our principles. We will hold a free, inclusive and credible poll,” said Mr. Momen. His remarks should be seen in the context of the threat from the principal opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) that has pledged to boycott the polls if they are not held under a caretaker dispensation. 

“There are many parties that are asking for election. We will not concede our ground on the demand of caretaker government,” said Mr. Momen, insisting that the opposition that demanded the caretaker government had not respected elections in the past. The issue of caretaker government has been a sticking point between the ruling Awami League and the BNP and stakeholders like the U.S. and the EU have expressed concern over the political stalemate and urged the Hasina government to make the next election truly participatory. India, however, has maintained a studied silence on the matter though the MEA in a statement said the two Prime Ministers on Friday discussed “political and security cooperation”. Mr. Momen said that the issue of election in Bangladesh did not feature when the two delegations met in the presence of the two leaders but added that both of them also had a one-on-one meeting hinting that “other issues” were discussed at that time. 

Rohingya crisis

The discussion between the two leaders and their teams also took up the Rohingya crisis. 

“With regard to the regional situation, Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation of the burden shouldered by Bangladesh in hosting over a million persons displaced from Rakhine State in Myanmar and conveyed India’s constructive and positive approach to support solutions towards safe and sustainable repatriation of the refugees,” said the MEA in a statement after the two leaders met. The two sides welcomed the exchange of an MoU on digital payment mechanism between the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Bangladesh Bank and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC). The two teams also agreed to renew the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for 2023-2025.

Ms. Hasina reached here in the afternoon to participate in the G-20 summit that will begin on Saturday. The two leaders discussed beginning of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that will include goods and services as well investment. 


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