'Russian propaganda': US rejects claims of meddling in Bangladesh elections

Washington remains committed to ensuring free and fair elections in Bangladesh, says a White House spokesman

Senior Correspondent
Published : 7 Dec 2023, 09:42 AM
Updated : 7 Dec 2023, 09:42 AM

Washington has rebuffed Moscow's allegations that the US envoy in Dhaka Peter Haas was attempting to interference in Bangladesh's internal affairs by colluding with opposition leaders ahead of the country's national elections.

During a media briefing in Washington on Wednesday, John Kirby, the White House's National Security Council spokesperson, dismissed Russia's claims as "absolutely false".

"This is just classic Russian propaganda.  They know it’s false.  We want the same thing the Bangladeshi people want and that’s free and fair elections."

Last month, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused the US of meddling in Bangladesh's internal affairs ahead of the country's national elections.

Zakharova alleged that Haas had met with opposition leaders in October to discuss plans for organising antigovernment rallies, thereby displaying an "open disregard" for the Vienna Convention.

She also contended that Bangladesh possesses the capability to conduct "transparent and inclusive elections" without foreign intervention.In response, the US State Department had said Zakharova's remarks were a "deliberate mischaracterisation" of US foreign policy.

On Wednesday, Kirby was asked for the White House's comments on Russia's accusations and the 'violent rhetoric' against Haas in Bangladesh.

"We want the same thing the Bangladeshi people want and that’s free and fair elections," he said.

Kirby reiterated that Haas and his team will continue to engage with the government, opposition, civil society, and other stakeholders to ensure free and fair elections.

During the briefing, Kirby's attention was also drawn to a report published by India Today, which claimed the Sheikh Hasina administration, with the backing of India, China and Russia, was working towards another 'one-sided election' by cracking down on the opposition.

Asked whether Washington maintained its stance about taking necessary measures to ensure free, fair and credible elections in Bangladesh, Kirby said, "We believe in a free and fair election in Bangladesh and we’ll continue to make that case.

"We don’t take sides in foreign elections, and that doesn’t change with – in Bangladesh’s case either.  We support a free and fair election.  We’re going to continue, as the ambassador team will, to do what we can to support that basic aspiration of the people of Bangladesh."