BD election will be fully inclusive, hopes EU envoy

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 22 Aug 2017, 00:24:33
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BD election will be fully inclusive, hopes EU envoy

Outgoing European Union (EU) Ambassador in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon has voiced optimism over a 'transparent and inclusive' national election saying there is a lot of enthusiasm and determination across the board in Bangladesh, report agencies.

"Absolutely...I found the goodwill across the board. There's a lot of enthusiasm and determination to bring the country forward," he told the media in an interview at his office on Monday.

Recalling the 'adverse consequences' during and after the last national elections, Ambassador Mayaudon said everybody has understood that such things should be avoided.

"Frankly speaking, I think it won't happen again," the ambassador said mentioning that he found the goodwill among all to make sure that the next national election in Bangladesh is a chance to bring forward the democratic agenda in Bangladesh.

The ambassador said the initiative taken by the Election Commission engaging the civil society and political parties in discussion is certainly a 'contribution' to finding a way forward in making sure that all significant and relevant political forces will be represented in the electoral competition.

"I think all actors are too conscious. Goodwill prevails," said Ambassador Mayaudon who leaves Dhaka on Thursday completing his three-year tenure in Bangladesh.

In May last, the ambassador also hoped that all the political parties in Bangladesh will take part in the next national election saying there have been some 'lessons learned' from the last election.

"There've been some lessons learned already that will certainly lead to proper approach...We wish that all political forces in this country will participate in the next elections obviously to make them as inclusive as possible," he said.

The ambassador was positive about sending an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) saying such Mission is not just focusing on Election Day rather it is quite massive involvement.

He reiterated EU's willingness to provide any assistance to the Election Commission if any such assistance is sought.

Referring to his meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner, the ambassador said he reiterated their offer to bring forward the long-established partnership with the Election Commission.

Replying to a question, the EU ambassador said democracy, governance and human rights are on top of the EU agenda in Bangladesh, and they never miss the opportunities to address these 'crucial fields'.

Asked to compare Bangladesh's present situation with the one three years ago, Ambassador Mayaudon said the political situation was quite volatile with widespread agitation and killing of innocent people.

"Three years later, today, the situation is much more peaceful," he said admitting that the last election had left many frustrated.

He said this is the kind of past and lessons learned from it. "I feel a general determination to make the next national a great opportunity for Bangladesh."

Evaluating his overall Dhaka assignment, the ambassador said, "Frankly speaking without exaggeration...probably this is the most rewarding period of my professional life."

Despite some difficulties and some tragic moments, he said altogether he is going to have a very positive kind of conclusion in Bangladesh with great satisfaction and fulfilling experience.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has apparently threatened to 'limit visas' to Europe for travellers from Bangladesh if there was no action by Dhaka on irregular migrants.

In a letter to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni recently, Juncker also promised to 'pressure Bangladesh' to take back its migrants, since the 'vast majority of them' are ineligible for international protection.

Asked why the EU turned so 'cruel' suddenly, Mayaudon said, "I beg to differ. We're not cruel at all. The EU is open to Bangladeshis."

He said every year the EU member states issue an average 20,000 residence permits to Bangladeshis to stay and work there.

The ambassador said over the last two years the number of Bangladeshis who tried to enter Europe through illegal channels has dramatically increased putting their lives at risk. "Our intention is to save the lives of people. We're looking at it on a very humanitarian aspect."

Bangladesh, earlier in principle, decided to take back its irregular migrants from Europe after proper verification of their nationality. Bangladesh and the EU are now discussing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the return of irregular migrants from the EU countries.

Responding to another question, he said education has a 'core role' in addressing the root cause of terrorism and violent extremism.

He acknowledged that no country in the world is spared from the threat of this global problem.
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