Hasina 'dispels' Ban's worry
Irregularities in last week's city corporation polls and BNP's decision to boycott the election halfway into the voting featured prominently in the telephone conversation between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Both the issues also came up in the series of meetings held between visiting US diplomats and top Bangladeshi politicians over the last two days.
The UN chief during a telephone call to the prime minister on Friday said BNP's participation in the recently held Dhaka and Chittagong city polls was relieving, but expressed concern over the party's withdrawal from the election midway through the polls, report news agencies.
Sheikh Hasina told the UN secretary general that on an average over 44 percent voter exercised their franchise and the number of votes cast in the polls was not abnormal. There was no scope to raise any question over the credibility of voting, she added.
The prime minister mentioned that the Election Commission announced the results discarding five percent of the votes on which there were some allegations. “There was not a single casualty in the polls, which was rare in the history of Bangladesh,” the PM said.
Hasina discussed the city polls environment during a meeting with visiting US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman who called on her at Gono Bhaban on Thursday night.
On Friday, speaking at a joint press conference on the outcome of the two-day fourth US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue, Sherman stressed the need for a transparent investigation into electoral irregularities.
Expressing disappointments both at the irregularities in the city corporation elections and BNP's boycott midway through, Sherman said the focus must now be on a transparent investigation to make sure that the next election was “highly improved”.
“We remain focused on a long-term solution that accommodates all parties and allows the Bangladeshi people to peacefully express their views,” said the US diplomat.
“I think what everyone needs to focus on [is] how the next election is highly improved and that is very important for democracy,” she said.
The issue of polls irregularities also came up in the discussion between Sherman and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia when the former went to meet the BNP chief at her Gulshan residence on Friday.
However, when journalists asked BNP standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan, a meeting participant, what Sherman told Khaleda regarding the April 28 city corporation elections, Moyeen said the US delegation had already expressed their views very clearly in writing.
Meanwhile, another BNP standing committee member Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah told newsmen yesterday that the BNP demanded the Election Commission cancel the April 28 elections and hold fresh polls.