BNP leaders meet visiting US official

Seek support in holding fair, inclusive next elections

The BNP yesterday sought support from the USA in creating a congenial atmosphere in Bangladesh for the next parliamentary elections to be free, fair and inclusive.

A high-profile BNP delegation made the appeal when it met US Department of State's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs William E Todd in the capital. 

There was no formal briefing from either side on the outcome of the two-hour-long meeting held at the Gulshan residence of US Ambassador Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat.

Both the sides at the meeting agreed not to disclose to the media what had been discussed.

The Daily Star could learn about the meeting as a few of the BNP leaders, who had been there, spoke on condition of anonymity.

The US embassy invited the BNP leaders to meet Todd, who is now on a visit to Dhaka. They discussed a wide range of issues, including the latest political development in the country.

The recent local body polls witnessed violence, massive irregularities and vote rigging by the ruling Awami League, the BNP delegation told the US official.

Against this backdrop, they said they wanted help from the US to ensure free and fair general elections next time. 

The BNP leaders also pointed out that the present chief election commissioner and his deputies did not have the guts to perform to ensure free and fair polls in the country and that the present EC was biased towards the government.

To substantiate their claims, they showed video footage and newspaper clippings on vote rigging and violence in the Union Parishad polls.

Emerging from the meeting, BNP standing committee member Moyeen Khan, who led the six-member delegation, however, told reporters that the meeting was nothing but a courtesy call.

Another party standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said different issues, including the country's political events, had come up in their discussion.

He refused to elaborate further.

During the meeting, the US side wanted to know about the recent targeted killings of writers, bloggers, and religious minorities in Bangladesh and what to do, according to their views, to tackle the situation, party sources said.


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