U.S. deems Bangladesh election as unfair, urges democratic principles

U.S. deems Bangladesh election as unfair, urges democratic principles

Mushfiqul Fazal, State Department Correspondent from Washington

Tuesday, January 29, 2024

In response to queries during a regular briefing at the State Department, spokesperson Matthew Miller stated, “The United States did not find the January 7 general election in Bangladesh to be free and fair.”

During the briefing, the State Department correspondent Mushfiqul Fazal, brought attention to the Wall Street Journal’s report on India’s involvement in a Canadian inquiry on election interference, aligning with China and Russia. India’s involvement has also surfaced in Bangladesh election interference to keep Sheikh Hasina in power. The Bangladeshi ruling foreign minister publicly asserted India’s support, drawing parallels with the one-sided elections of 2014 and 2018. Critics allege that the U.S. is resisting democracy promotion in Bangladesh due to Indian influence.

When questioned about the U.S. response to these developments, Miller refrained from commenting on the Canadian inquiry, stating, “So I don’t have a response with respect to the Canadian inquiry that you referenced. That’s a matter for Canada to speak to. I will say with respect to Bangladesh, democracy – as we have said any number of times as it pertains to Bangladesh and others – advances peace, prosperity, and security. It is at the center of the United States’ foreign policy, and we continue to engage with the Bangladeshi Government to advance democratic principles, which are key to ensuring peace and prosperity for all Bangladeshis.”

In another question, I mentioned that the Human Rights Commission called for the immediate release of detained political activists in Bangladesh, and that the present regime arrested 25,000 opposition members, including top opposition leaders, BNP leaders, to manipulate the January 7th sham election. I inquired about the steps the U.S. was taking against the authoritarian regime for undermining democracy given the pre-election visa restriction policy.

The State Department spokesperson responded, “You have heard me speak about our concerns about the parliamentary elections in Bangladesh before. We did not find them to be free and fair. We have also expressed our concerns with the arrest of thousands of political opposition members in the run-up to those elections.”

He added, “I will say two things. One, we urge the Bangladeshi Government to ensure a fair and transparent legal process for all of the arrested individuals. We also urge the Bangladeshi Government to allow opposition members and media professionals, civil society representatives, to participate meaningfully in the country’s democratic process and civic life, and we will continue to engage with the Bangladeshi Government to advance that point of view.”