EU Not Sending Election Observers In the Upcoming Polls

Flag Of European Union || Photo: Collected

Flag Of European Union || Photo: Collected

The European Union (EU) is fearing a conflict over the upcoming national elections in Bangladesh. There are also questions about the organization's election-supportive environment. If invited by the Election Commission or the government, the EU may send a small expert team instead of sending a full election observation team to national elections. They gave the letter to the government on Wednesday (September 20).

An announcement in this regard may come from Brussels, Belgium today, Thursday (September 21). This information is known from related sources.

Despite taking this decision, the EU member countries are also considering the possibility of relations with Bangladesh. On the condition of anonymity, an ambassador of the EU member country in Dhaka said that a letter has already been given to the Election Commission about sending observers. There is disagreement among the EU member states in Dhaka about sending election observers. Although not all our colleagues are happy about it, maybe the EU could send a small expert team as early as 2018.

A pre-election observation team of six EU members visited Bangladesh from July 8 to 23 at the invitation of the Election Commission. The delegation mainly assesses the scope, planning, budget, logistics and security of the election observation mission. The pre-election observation team met with representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, election-related authorities, representatives of the international community, law enforcement agencies, political leaders, civil society and media representatives.

The EU delegation reviewed the overall situation ahead of the national elections. They are mainly security observers during elections; The likelihood that elections will be free, fair, acceptable and free from violence examines factors such as the environment in which elections are held. Based on the report of this delegation, the EU will decide whether to send a full observer team to the next national elections.

The EU Electoral Environment Investigation Mission visiting Bangladesh has tried to find out what kind of qualitative difference has been created in the upcoming national elections from the elections of 2014 and 2018. Along with that, the delegation tried to understand the fair environment and whether the parties will participate in the election or not.

Sources in Brussels said that the announcement may be made today. And the power to decide to send observers to the election belongs to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell.

According to the sources, the EU is looking for a supportive environment around the national elections in Bangladesh. For this reason, even after the pre-election observation team visited Bangladesh, the mission heads in Dhaka met frequently to come to a mutual position. During the meetings, some of them commented that sending the observer team was risky. Others have seen the relationship with Bangladesh bigger than the risk.

On June 12, six EU parliamentarians wrote to Josep Borrell about the Bangladesh issue. They called upon the impartial caretaker government at that time to play a role in holding free, transparent and bias-free general elections in Bangladesh, including human rights violations.

The European Union (EU) encourages genuine dialogue between political parties in Bangladesh, Josep Borrell said in a letter to the reply citing the responsibility of all to build confidence in the electoral process in Bangladesh. It has also encouraged all political parties and citizens in Bangladesh to exercise political rights and participate in parliamentary elections. Bangladesh has been encouraged to have sufficient space for civil society. Protection of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly, is essential to the democratic process. Violence has no place in this process and violence should be avoided at all costs.

Josep Borrell said that the EU is in continuous discussion with the government of Bangladesh. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are integral to EU politics and values. As a result, these issues are brought up to the government of Bangladesh, both formally and informally.

The EU did not send observers to the previous two parliamentary elections. As the 2014 election was not participatory, the organization's election observers did not come. And in 2018, the Election Commission of Bangladesh invited the EU to send observers. In response, Brussels said that the EU will not deploy any observation mission in Bangladesh's parliamentary elections. However, an election expert team of two members will be sent. Who will work and advise on the selection process.

Meanwhile, the US pre-election observation team is coming to Bangladesh on October 8. Three experts from National Democratic Institute (NDI) and two or three experts from International Republican Institute (IRI) will be in that team. They will stay in Bangladesh till October 12. At that time, they are supposed to have a meeting with various circles including the Election Commission. In the meantime, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written to the Election Commission asking for the time of the meeting. According to those concerned, whether the United States will send observers to the next election depends a lot on the report of this delegation. In 2018, they wanted to send observers to the election from the United States, but due to various complications with the government, they could not send observers.

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