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EP, EU not to observe polls

29 Nov,2018

BDchronicle:

The European Union and the European Parliament will not observe the 11th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh scheduled for December 30.

The European Union and the European Parliament made the announcements on Wednesday and Tuesday respectively.
The United States, France, Denmark and the Commonwealth separately expressed intent to observe the polls at their own costs, government officials said. 
The European Union on Wednesday announced that they would send no election observer mission in Bangladesh for the 11th parliamentary elections scheduled for December 30.
European Union delegation chief in Dhaka Rensje Teerink said on Wednesday that a two-member election expert team would stay for 40 days in Bangladesh to know the situation relevant to the elections.
Rensje Teerink introduced EU polls experts David Noel Ward and Eirini-Maria Gounari at a meeting with the Election Commission when chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda and other election commissioners and officials were present.
‘We are happy that we have here a good team including two experts,’ she said after the meeting with commission, adding that the EU delegation was following the elections very closely. 
The ambassador said that the European Union was not sending a full election observer mission because of time constraints.
‘There is a lot of pressure and interest from all our partner countries to get election observer missions. So, the decision is made based on prioritisation by the headquarters. We cannot honour all requests for observers,’ she said, ‘the EU needs six months in advance to start taking preparation.’
About the statements of some members of the European Parliament on the Bangladesh elections, she said that the statements made by them were their personal and not an EU official statement, as they were independent to make any remarks. 
The European Parliament Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group said on Tuesday that European Parliament would not observe the elections.
No individual member of the European Parliament has been mandated to observe or comment on this electoral process on its behalf, co-chairs of the group David McAllister and Linda McAvan said in a statement issued from Brussels. 
They said that they would not observe this electoral process and consequently would neither comment on the process nor on the results that would be announced afterwards.
Any statement made by members of European Parliament on these elections did not represent in any way the view of the European Parliament or the European Union, they said. 
Expressing the reasons behind the decision on sending no delegation, Josef Weidenholzer, a member of European Parliament who has been closely following political developments in Bangladesh for a long time, said, ‘The current political situation in Bangladesh does not display the existence of fundamental prerequisites of fair elections such as freedom of assembly, freedom of press etc,’ according to Deutsche Welle of Germany. 
‘The opposition is restricted, and its leader Khaleda Zia is sentenced to 10 years in jail lacking a fair trial. There is no independent Election Commission,’ he said, adding, ‘under such conditions, the presence of a European Parliament election observation mission would not fulfil its objectives and could be misused for distortive purposes.’ 
Top diplomats in Dhaka of several influential counties said that they ‘have already deployed polls observation teams and the mechanism would continue till the polling processes end.’
The European Parliament stated its position on the elections in its November 15 resolution in which it expressed the hope that the elections would be peaceful, transparent and participatory so that citizens could express a genuine political choice. 
The Election Commission is likely to formally invite election observers from the Forum of Election Management Bodies of South Asia, commission joint secretary SM Asaduzzam told BDchronicle on Wednesday.

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