Government can’t guarantee violence-free polls, Momen tells US team

A pre-election monitoring team from the US is in Dhaka ahead of the upcoming parliamentary polls

Senior Correspondent
Published : 8 Oct 2023, 04:58 PM
Updated : 8 Oct 2023, 04:58 PM

The government has taken steps to ensure free and fair elections, but violence-free polls do not depend on it alone, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said.

He made the remarks in a meeting with a pre-election monitoring team from the US in Dhaka on Sunday ahead of the upcoming parliamentary polls.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Momen said he sought help from the US to ensure a free and fair general election. “But I can’t say [the election] will be non-violent because it needs consensus of all the parties, and their sincerity and wish.”

The six-strong team, jointly formed by the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, arrived in Dhaka on Saturday and will stay until Thursday.

Karl Inderfurth, former US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, and Bonnie Glick, a former deputy administrator of the USAID, are heading the team, which will meet government officials, political parties, the Election Commission, members of the civil society and Dhaka-based foreign diplomats.

Momen said he had highlighted the history of elections in Bangladesh in the meeting, and pointed out that violence in polls is common in the country.

“We want fair and impartial elections free from confrontation, but we can’t guarantee confrontation-free polls.”

The foreign minister said they did not discuss the BNP’s demand for an election-time caretaker government.

“The election will be held in a way it is held in other countries. There is nothing called an election-time government in our constitution.”

He claimed participation of all the parties in the election was not in the meeting’s agenda. “To us, inclusive elections mean participation of people. If a sufficient number of voters turn up, it will be an inclusive election.”

Momen said he recalled the deadly protests by the BNP during the 2014 elections, but did not request the US to pressure the opposition party to contest the next election.