The European Union's Election Exploratory Mission has sat down with the Election Commission to evaluate the prospects of a fair and free general election in Bangladesh.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal and two other election commissioners met with EU representatives at the watchdog's Agargaon offices on Tuesday. Charles Whiteley, the EU ambassador to Bangladesh, accompanied the delegation.
Earlier, the panel held talks with the Bangladesh Election Monitoring Forum (EMF) at the Delegation of the EU in Dhaka.
“We have shared what we observed during the recent [local government] elections in the country and also informed [the EU mission] about the capacity of the EC and the assistance given by the government,” Prof Abed Ali, chairman of the EMF, told reporters.
The EC installed CCTV cameras in poll centres to monitor the local government elections in a bid to ensure the safety and security of voters.
It also implemented strict measures to maintain law and order while taking the bold decision to call off the Gaibandha parliament bypoll due to voting irregularities. These steps have helped create public faith in the electoral system, according to the EMF.
"Although a major political party did not participate in the recent city corporation elections, a large contingent of former councillors and prominent local leaders associated with the party ran for office, and many of them were elected. This is a testament to the neutrality, courage, and capability of the Election Commission," the forum said in a statement.
The EMF added that it did not find any evidence of 'undue interference' by the government during the elections.
The six-strong Election Exploratory Mission from the EU is visiting Bangladesh to conduct a feasibility study on the prospects of a free, fair, and participatory election and check if it would be possible to send election observers for the upcoming election.
The mission will evaluate the periphery of work, planning, budget, logistics, and security of the key election observer mission during its visit from Jul 8 to Jul 23.
The EU mission will submit its report to Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, as Charles Whiteley, the EU ambassador to Bangladesh, said earlier.
Based on the report, Borrell will make a decision on sending election observers to Bangladesh.