US envoy to EC
Industry Desk: Outgoing US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat yesterday hoped that elections in the city corporations and national one will be held in a “free, fair, credible and inclusive” manner.
“We always advocate for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections,” she told reporters adding that they along with Bangladesh officials always work towards that goal. After her meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda, the US envoy said in every democracy there is example of irregularities that occur in elections and their goal is to improving that process.
She said she is always hopeful and optimistic as Bangladesh has the history of holding free, fair and credible elections. “We talked about wide range of issues involving elections,” Bernicat said emphasizing on how to promote credible elections. “This is an ongoing discussion.”
The US envoy who was criticized for commenting on Bangladesh election issues said criticism is part and parcel of healthy democracy. “Freedom to speech and freedom to assemble are fundamental rights that both of our constituencies guarantee.”
Bernicat said, “You have the right to say that US Ambassador does not know what she is talking about. They have the ability to say that who disagree with me. That’s the beauty of democracy”
She said her government responded that she is not speaking for herself but she is speaking for the US government.
Apparently reacting to US Ambassador’s comments on Bangladesh elections, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader earlier stressed avoiding such remarks that might hurt friendly relations between the two countries.
Bernicat commended the holding of elections to Khulna and Gazipur city corporations but expressed concern by reports of election “irregularities, including ballot box stuffing, intimidation” of political players, polling agents before the end of voting.
She also expressed satisfaction over the lower level of violence and wider participation of political parties in the elections.