Opinion

The European Union (EU) consultant and their stance on acceptable election practices in Bangladesh

Because the upcoming normal election in Bangladesh approaches, political actions are intensifying on the streets. Every political get together is striving to enchantment to the voters in their very own approach. Notably, influential international locations from around the globe are additionally carefully observing the state of democracy and the election course of in Bangladesh. At present, the pre-election statement workforce from the European Union (EU) is in Dhaka, led by Dimitra Ioannou.

The EU delegation has already carried out a number of conferences to realize insights into the election panorama. They search to grasp the prevailing traits, potential for violence, authorities interference, in addition to the safety and legislation enforcement scenario. Their curiosity and expectation are clear: the following normal election in Bangladesh ought to be carried out in a free, truthful, acceptable, and violence-free surroundings. Whereas the federal government has assured that the election might be held underneath such circumstances, the opposition events maintain a special opinion. These variations will enable the EU consultant to gauge the security and freedom of motion for election observers in Bangladesh.

Final yr in July, the EU held a gathering with the Election Fee. Following that, Charles Whiteley, the EU Head of Delegation in Bangladesh, lately met with the Election Fee to specific the EU’s willingness to ship an observer workforce for the upcoming nationwide elections. Whiteley expressed his satisfaction with the optimistic response from the Bangladeshi authorities relating to this matter.

Drawing on my intensive expertise as a political advisor for an influential Western nation, it may be acknowledged that Western nations don’t think about solely the polling day and the three previous months because the election interval. Quite, they view it as a broader timeframe, encompassing the election yr and subsequent months. This prolonged interval consists of elements equivalent to freedom of expression, the suitable to meeting for opposition events, the involvement of civil society within the electoral course of, in addition to the safety of human rights and democratic ideas. The therapy of the opposition by the federal government is a matter of eager curiosity.

Previous to the EU delegation’s arrival in Dhaka, a separate difficulty relating to the upcoming elections in Bangladesh was raised inside European soil. Six members of the European Parliament wrote a letter to Joseph Borrell, the top of the European Union’s international affairs, urging him to play a task in making certain free, truthful, and neutral elections in Bangladesh. The letter, dated June 12, was signed by Ivan Štefánek (Slovakia), Mikaela Szydrova (Czech Republic), Andrekovachev (Bulgaria), Karen Melchior (Denmark), Javier Narat (Spain), and Heidi Hautala (Finland). It’s value mentioning that the European Union member states encompass Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Eire, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Of their letter, the members of the European Parliament expressed concern over human rights violations in Bangladesh. They referred to as for the restoration of democracy and the rule of legislation in Bangladesh earlier than the upcoming nationwide elections. The letter highlighted that the present authorities of Bangladesh has been in energy since 2009 and has undermined the democratic rights of residents whereas failing to uphold the basic rights enshrined within the Structure. The federal government has allegedly employed ways equivalent to submitting false instances, torture, abductions, and extrajudicial killings in opposition to leaders and activists of anti-government political events to consolidate energy. Undoubtedly, the content material of this letter will form the discussions and deliberations of the EU delegation in Dhaka, serving as a framework for his or her evaluation. It is very important word that the EU is worried in regards to the state system and the electoral course of in Bangladesh because of collective pressures from member states to guard their investments and guarantee moral practices within the sourcing of clothes, with societies exhibiting reluctance to assist clothes produced underneath poor working circumstances. Consequently, they consider that sturdy governance and a strong democratic basis are essential for a rustic to offer its employees with a solvent and steady life-style.

The EU has a big international direct funding (FDI) stockpile of $2 billion in Bangladesh. Ambassador Charles Whiteley, relating to EU investments, acknowledged, “I feel, if the coverage is modified from Bangladesh’s aspect, it may change rapidly. Bangladesh is a wonderful place for enterprise.”

A current examine titled ‘Strengthening Bangladesh-EU Commerce and Financial Cooperation: Points and Coverage Priorities’ revealed that Bangladesh exports merchandise value $23 billion yearly to 27 European international locations. By enhancing capability and product selection, this quantity may be additional elevated by one other $18 billion. Within the interval of 2000-2001, Bangladesh’s complete exports to the UK and EU amounted to $2.5 billion. Over the previous 20-21 years, this determine has grown tenfold to achieve $25 billion. Notably, 90 p.c of Bangladesh’s export merchandise to Europe encompass ready-made clothes. Furthermore, internet FDI inflows from EU international locations have reached $3.5 billion previously 5 years, accounting for practically 1 / 4 of the entire FDI inflows throughout that interval.

To attain financial prosperity in Bangladesh, superior know-how and technical data are essential. Good governance, respect for human rights, and democracy are important to determine sturdy ties with developed nations.

Salim Raihan, the Government Director of the South Asian Community on Financial Modeling (SANEM) and a professor within the Economics Division at Dhaka College, acknowledged in an interview with the German information company Deutsche Welle, “The European Union is our largest buying and selling accomplice. The business advantages we presently take pleasure in will proceed for 3 extra years after our commencement from the least developed nation standing in 2026. Nonetheless, the vast majority of our export merchandise are clothes. Diversification is important on this regard. If we are able to achieve superior know-how and know-how via cooperation agreements, it will be extremely worthwhile. We are able to improve the standard and number of our merchandise whereas attracting extra investments.”

The EU’s relationship with Bangladesh dates again to 1973. The EC Bangladesh Industrial Cooperation Settlement, signed in 1976, was changed by the Third Technology Cooperation Settlement in March 2001. This settlement additional strengthened the connection by facilitating cooperation in varied areas, together with political dialogue. The Nation Technique for Bangladesh, protecting the interval from 2007 to 2013, targeted on supporting Bangladesh’s efforts to fight poverty and obtain the Millennium Growth Targets (MDGs) by 2015.

Therefore, it’s evident that EU member states have a vested curiosity in Bangladesh’s financial progress. Subsequently, they like to voice their issues relating to Bangladesh’s political affairs to safeguard their investments and make sure the uninterrupted provide of clothes to their residents. Their purpose is for the following election in Bangladesh to be held in a free, truthful, acceptable, and violence-free surroundings. On this context, it may be noticed that the EU expects the federal government of Bangladesh, underneath the management of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to play a big function in creating such an surroundings. The content material of the letter and the language utilized by EU parliamentarians replicate this viewpoint. Nonetheless, the political actuality in Bangladesh means that the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Social gathering (BNP) doesn’t uphold democratic values. The BNP’s ascension to energy in Bangladesh didn’t happen via a democratic course of. It is very important word that in their rule, a public assembly of the Awami League held in Dhaka on August 21, 2004, was subjected to a grenade assault facilitated by the BNP, ensuing within the lack of lives of 24 leaders and activists of the Awami League, although Sheikh Hasina, the prime goal, fortunately survived.

Subsequently, it’s affordable to query whether or not the BNP, with a historical past of resorting to terrorism and violence, will repeat such rogue ways and switch the following normal election into an occasion marked by acts of terror and bloodshed. Historical past means that they won’t adhere to a clear path however as a substitute pursue something that leads them again to energy.

Given the presence of an opposition get together just like the BNP, which has proven a propensity for using any means to regain energy, making certain non-violent, free, and truthful normal elections in Bangladesh can’t solely depend on the ruling Awami League. The worldwide powers want to acknowledge this floor actuality.

Nonetheless, it’s also incumbent upon the ruling get together to offer equal alternatives for different political events to conduct their campaigns and take part within the election. On this regard, the Awami League ought to play the function of a real guardian.

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