US senate writes Hasina, Khaleda for new polls
Expressing concern over the ongoing political impasses, US Senator Robert Menendez has urged both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to negotiate on holding a new election that are free, fair, peaceful and inclusive.
Robert Menendez, the chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on January 8.
"Bangladesh is a valued partner of the United States. Bilateral trade between our countries now tops $6 billion annually, and US companies have made significant long-term investments in Bangladesh. The ongoing political deadlock has had serious economic consequences and will further weaken the confidence of international investors. To end this downward spiral, I strongly urge you to begin negotiations on new elections that are free, fair, peaceful and inclusive," he insisted.
Menendez also called on Hasina and Khaleda to reaffirm their commitment to improving labour conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, said a statement of the committee published on January 10.
"I am writing to express my concern about the ongoing political stalemate in Bangladesh and urge you to work with your counterpart to develop a mutually agreed upon path forward for your country," the US senator said in the letters.
"The current political stalemate could destabilise the country and have long-term negative implications for the democratic process and economic prospects for Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh deserve a durable, transparent and credible political process through which they can choose their future leaders," the senator warned.
He also strongly condemned the violence and unrest that took place in the pre-polls period and on election day.
"Under no circumstances is violence an acceptable and legitimate expression of political views. The street violence must stop immediately and parties must have political space to peacefully express their views," he added.
US relations with the people of Bangladesh have never been stronger and we partner on an increasingly wide array of common interests. But the current political deadlock and the associated violence significantly threaten our common achievements and the potential for continued progress on a range of issues such as counterterrorism and counter-piracy, the mitigation of natural disasters, poverty alleviation and food security, the letter added.
"We are also working together to improve labour conditions in Bangladesh. While some progress has been made on fire and building safety, much more remains to be done and I still have serious concerns regarding the organising environment for workers. I trust that you share my support for the rights of workers in Bangladesh. During this tenuous period, I urge you to publicly endorse the commitments to worker safety and labour rights embodied in the Generalised System of Preferences Action Plan and work closely with the United States and the international community to empower workers and bolster the confidence of international investors and consumers in Bangladesh’s garment sector, it said.
"The world is watching Bangladesh. As a strong supporter of our important bilateral relationship, I again urge renewed negotiations that will lead to free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections and an immediate end to politically motivated violence," the letter added.