The European Parliament (EP), a directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU), still stands by its resolution to call for political dialogue to hold fresh inclusive national elections in Bangladesh.
“Obviously there is a need for political dialogue. We want to see a situation wherein voices of all people of Bangladesh can be heard in politics,” said Jean Lambert, leader of a four-member visiting EP mission.
In an exclusive interview with a select group of journalists at a hotel in the capital in the morning, she said everything should be on the table including the possibility of an early election if all legitimate parties were willing to participate.
She said it was dialogue, not monologue, and it should lead to an agreement among all political parties to make things move forward.
The delegation, arriving on Sunday evening on a two-day visit, has two key areas of interest -- to witness the post-January 5 political situation and follow up actions to the Rana Plaza collapse ahead of its first anniversary on April 24.
About what to expect from the EP if there is no political dialogue, Jean said a new EP would be elected in May and it would keep observing what was happening in Bangladesh and evaluate things.
About EP's call to BNP to sever ties with Jamaat-e-Islami, she said they would raise the matter with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia (in a meeting that was held later in the afternoon) and learn about the advantage and disadvantages of maintaining ties with Jamaat.
About The Daily Star's query on the rise of reported extrajudicial killings, she said, “You're right. This is something which is deeply disturbing as the number of incidents is going up.”
Jean said it was important to ensure the quality of investigation and subsequent action taken against the perpetrators.
About the EU's position following the Rana Plaza collapse, Jean said they would see what steps the government took so far in ensuring recruitment of inspectors, transparency of inspection reports on the garment industry and implementation of measures to improve work safety and labour laws.
About the ongoing upazila polls, she said this would be one of the issues to be discussed with the Election Commission (EC) today and that they would want to know what action would be taken by the EC regarding irregularities in the polls.
She said since political parties backed the contestants despite it being a non-partisan election, they should be responsible, alongside the EC, for determining the way it was conducted and there should be a system where people could know about their role.
It is not expected to see the stories of violence and deaths, she added.
On the first day of their mission yesterday, the EP delegation held a breakfast meeting with ambassadors of eight European countries.
Later, they separately met with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Khaleda.
The delegation is due to hold a meeting with the EC and call on Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today.