Hasina says only detractors cast doubt on fairness of Bangladesh polls

The prime minister addresses the issue during a media briefing on her trip to Germany for the Munich Security Conference

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 23 Feb 2024, 04:57 AM
Updated : 23 Feb 2024, 04:57 AM

After winning a record-extending fourth straight term, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has hit back at critics of the electoral process in Bangladesh and said only those opposed to her government have questioned the integrity of the Jan 7 polls.

Hasina addressed the issue on Friday during the question and answer segment of her media briefing on her recent visit to Germany for the Munich Security Conference.

The three-day trip to Germany was Hasina’s first foreign visit since leading the Awami League to a landslide victory in the Jan 7 election and securing a record-extending fourth straight term in office amid a boycott by the BNP.

Although some foreign observers expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election, the US and the UK cast doubt on its fairness, condemning the mass arrests of opposition members and poll-related violence.

Asked if any world leader raised questions about the recent election in Bangladesh, the premier said, "Due to our relations with European and other nations at the state level as well as with me personally, there was one benefit: no one mentioned anything about the election.

"They knew that I'd be reelected. Those who didn't want us to win are the ones raising issues."

Hasina emphasised the short turnaround between the voting and the announcement of results in Bangladesh to dismiss concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.

"If a country takes 10 or 12 days to declare the outcome of its election, that election is considered free and fair. But when we announce the election results within 24 hours, it isn't free and fair."

"We don't have a remedy for this malady."

UPHOLDING SOCIO-ECONOMIC FREEDOM THROUGH POLICIES

At the conference, Hasina said she highlighted Bangladesh's commitment to promoting socio-political freedom globally, emphasising that a nation's influence is defined by its policies rather than its geographical size.

"It's the strength of our policies, not the size of our country, that can bring socio-political freedom to our people. I conveyed that message at the global stage through this conference. Additionally, the bilateral meetings at the conference have bolstered our ties with friendly nations and international organisations, paving the way for further cooperation."

Describing the conference as a premier platform for high-level discussions on current and future global security challenges, Hasina noted that this year's event saw participation from over 35 heads of state and government.

The agenda covered a wide range of topics, including rivalries between superpowers, regional conflicts, economic and climate security, water and information security, migration, supply chains, artificial intelligence, and pandemics.

The prime minister also addressed the adverse impacts of economic sanctions and retaliatory measures. "I urged [the international community] to stop all kinds of war, including the one in Gaza, to protect civilians, particularly women and children."

During her stay in Munich, the head of government held bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Qatar Prime Minister Mohammad Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

The prime minister typically holds a media briefing after every foreign visit to share insights from her journey. The most recent briefing took place on Oct 30 last year, following her participation in the Global Gateway Forum in Brussels.

While these briefings primarily cover the outcomes and experiences of her international engagements, they also provide a platform for discussing pressing national matters, including political, economic, and societal issues, during the question and answer segment.