Commonwealth happy at post-poll stability

The Commonwealth Secretary General is happy to see Bangladesh’s post-poll situation ‘stabilise’ and feels all parties should uphold democracy and the Constitution.

Published : 26 April 2014, 08:37 AM
Updated : 26 April 2014, 09:15 AM

Kamalesh Sharma says there was “right-minded thinking” among political parties as they all joined the local government elections.

He, however, spoke against violence in any form while meeting foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in London on Friday.

The foreign minister is in London on a two-day tour on his way back from Netherlands.

The Commonwealth has joined the UK and the US in expressing its “disappointment” over the Jan 5 parliamentary polls after many Opposition parties did not join it .

The 53-nation Commonwealth did not send observers to the Jan 5 polls after more than half the seats returned winners uncontested due to a poll boycott by major opposition BNP.

But, according to the foreign ministry, the Secretary General welcomed recent developments during his meeting with the foreign minister.

“It is good to see that the political climate in Bangladesh has stabilised and that right-minded thinking is percolating through all political camps as evident from the recent local level elections,” Sharma was quoted as saying.

The foreign ministry said the Secretary General stressed “the need for clear commitment among all political parties about the ground rules for holding elections in accordance with the Constitutional provisions”.

“The Commonwealth would not like to see any form of violence, disorder and divisiveness in Bangladesh’s democratic process,” he said.

The foreign minister briefed him about the post-election situation and the recent Upazila elections in Bangladesh.

The Commonwealth Secretary General welcomed these developments and underscored the importance of upholding the Constitution and democratic order.

They also exchanged views on plans for management reforms within the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Foreign Minister underscored the need for “striking the right balance between development and governance issues” in the Commonwealth’s work.

The Secretary General briefed the Minister about the work being undertaken to follow-up on the decisions of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Colombo in Nov 2013.

The Commonwealth Secretary General also expressed his interest in visiting Bangladesh “at a mutually convenient time” later this year.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Mahmmod Ali met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, Government Whip and Spokesperson at the House of Lords holding the rank of a Minister.

Recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Lord Ahmad commended her decisive role in promoting secular democracy, economic progress and women’s empowerment.

He showed particular interest in the progress made in female education in Bangladesh.

Referring to the Jan 5 national elections, Lord Ahmad assured Ali of the UK’s continued support for upholding the constitutional and democratic process and the rule of law in Bangladesh.

He also underscored the need for the two countries to work together to address the challenges posed by “extremism and radicalisation”.

The foreign ministry said the minister drew the Lord’s attention “to the pertinent observations” made in this regard by the European Parliament’s Jan 16 Resolution on the situation in Bangladesh.

The Conservative Spokesperson Lord Ahmad appreciated Bangladesh’s recent decision to join the ‘Declaration for Commitment to End Sexual Violence During Armed Conflicts’ launched by the UK Government in Sept 2013.

He invited the Bangladesh Foreign Minister to attend the high-level event being organised in London in June this year to garner international political support for the Declaration.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Ambassador Mohamed Mijarul Quayes was present during the meetings.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher