Several hundred grassroots leaders of the Awami League and the BNP yesterday pledged to work towards a free, fair and peaceful general election.
They also vowed to shun violence and carry out a peaceful campaign during the upcoming polls. The leaders wanted to see smooth continuation of the democratic process through a peaceful and transparent election.
Democracy International (DI) brought together 400 AL and BNP leaders from 40 districts to inaugurate “Shantite Bijoy or Win with Peace”, a national campaign seeking peace in the run-up to the polls.
Jointly funded by USAID and UKAID, the campaign was launched at Celebrity Hall of Bangabandhu International Convention Centre with a slogan “Bangladesh will win if peace wins”.
It will engage and raise awareness among registered political parties and candidates in favour of peaceful elections and tolerant politics.
PM's Political Adviser HT Imam, BNP Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake and Chief of Party for DI in Bangladesh Katie Croake along with senior political leaders attended the event.
Talking to this correspondent, some grassroots leaders said they did not want any violence before, during and after the election and called for ensuring peaceful electioneering.
A group of children administered an oath to the political leaders.
Speaking on the occasion, HT Imam said, “It's our firm commitment to holding a free, fair and transparent election, which will be acceptable to all.”
He also hoped that the upcoming general election would be held in a peaceful manner and festive mood.
He urged all to refrain from spreading all kinds of propaganda.
Moyeen Khan put emphasis on transparency and accountability, saying these are absolutely important for democracy.
The BNP leader sought a peaceful political environment where everyone would be able to express their views and have their right to vote. There must be social and political justice. “Let's us work together and together, we can make it happen.”
In her speech, US Ambassador Bernicat said a free, fair, credible and inclusive election is important for a democracy, especially for one which is on the track to become a middle-income country.
She said political parties must accept their rivals as legitimate participants in the political process and as potential leaders of the next government, even when they disagree on issues or policies.
“Individuals from different political parties must be free to express their political views, campaign throughout the country and hold peaceful rallies and meetings without intimidation, reprisal or arbitrary restrictions,” Bernicat added.
British High Commissioner Alison Blake said the people of Bangladesh believe that peaceful elections and politics will lead to a brighter future for everyone in Bangladesh.
She said the UK strongly reaffirms its commitment to supporting democracy globally, working with their partners.
Blake said she is delighted to be able to join such a wonderful event, bringing together people from across the political spectrum and the country to pledge their support for inclusive politics and to help deliver Bangladeshis' vision for free, fair, participatory elections in Bangladesh.
“All of us want peace. If peace wins, the world wins; if peace wins, Bangladesh wins.”