In a surprise last minute change of heart, the government has decided to refrain from contesting for a member post in the elections of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Council.
The ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technology.
The ITU Council acts as the ITU's governing body in the four-year interval between Plenipotentiary Conferences, which is the supreme organ determining ITU's direction and activities.
Despite the withdrawal decision, a good number of senior officials from the telecom ministry and regulator are going ahead with a now-defunct election campaign plan: attending ITU Telecom World in Durban, South Africa this month.
Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar confirmed the withdrawal on Thursday.
Currently 193 countries are the ITU members along with almost 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. Bangladesh was given primary membership of the ITU in 1973. The election, scheduled to be held in Dubai on November 16, takes place once in every four years for council membership based on five regions. Bangladesh was elected one of the 13 members of the Asia and Australasia region in the last two polls.
In the 2014 election in South Korea, Bangladesh got 115 of 167 votes among 19 aspirants. In 2010 held in Mexico, Bangladesh got 123 votes among 17 contestants.
This time 14 countries had sought to contest and Bangladesh's withdrawal saw the remaining 13 being elected.
“We had a huge chance of being elected this time, I think the easiest scope compared to previous times as we have performed well in the last two occasions and candidates' number had also declined,” said Jabbar.
He said the withdrawal decision was taken following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's advice.
The government will have its hands full with the 11th parliamentary elections during the ITU polls and so “might not be able to concentrate on the ITU election”, he said.
A top telecom ministry official said Bangladesh for the first time in its history witnessed a poor performance in a couple of polls to international organisations, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. “So government wants to avoid the risk just before the national election,” said the official seeking anonymity.
“But we have received written commitment from 71 countries (that they would cast their votes in favour of Bangladesh) and we are almost certain about the win.”
Bangladesh started it election campaign globally on filling the application for candidacy in March this year.
While the foreign ministry ran programmes and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali sought support from foreign countries at a programme at state guesthouse Padma in July.
The government had recently been generously funding the campaign, such as by booking stalls and pavilions in global programmes and by sending government and BTRC officials to attend a good number of international events.