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US, European nations keen to observe Dec 30 polls

05 Dec,2018

BDchronicle:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the Election Commission that several Western countries, along with some reputed regional and international groups, expressed their interest in sending election observers for the December 30 polls.

According to diplomatic sources, the United States, France, Denmark and Norway showed interest in sending election observers.

US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL) were also willing to send observers, said the sources.

US submitted a list of 65 observers and ANFREL sent a list of 28 to the EC, said sources.

Among the major Asian countries, Japan showed interest to observe the upcoming election.

Two of the biggest Asian countries -- China and India -- had no plan to send any election observer teams to Bangladesh, said the sources.

However, a diplomat of High Commission of India yesterday told BDchronicle that India would consider sending support if Dhaka seeks assistance.

"I think the Bangladesh Election Commission and the Election Commission of India are in direct contact regarding the observer issue," he said.

Around ten foreign embassies in Dhaka already contacted the foreign ministry showing interest in observing the election, said the ministry sources.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Bangladesh wrote to the SAARC nations inviting them to send two election observers from each country for the December 30 polls, said EC sources.

Commonwealth headquarters was also requested to send its election observer group to Bangladesh, sources added.

Besides, the EC invited the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) to send two observers each from their respective organisations, sources said.

Bangladesh is a member of both AWEB and AAEA and regularly pays for subscriptions to the organisations.

The US is expected to have 20 teams, 12 from NDI and eight from the US embassy, along with its agencies like USAID, in Dhaka for observing the polls, foreign ministry officials said.

“I think none is flying in from the USA. NDI team members will mostly come from different Asian countries and the eight US embassy teams will comprise the diplomats and their local members in Bangladesh,” said an official of the foreign ministry.

Each NDI team would comprise two observers to monitor various constituencies across Bangladesh, said a diplomatic source.

Washington has already cleared fund and instructed authorities concerned to send 12 observer teams to monitor the December 30 polls, diplomatic sources added.

An NDI pre-election observer team has already arrived in Dhaka and began its activities, said the diplomatic source.

A five-member delegation of NDI had a meeting with the EC yesterday to discuss its plan of monitoring the polls, EC sources said.

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