US to send five experts to assess Bangladesh election

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The United States will send a team of five experts to observe the 12th National Parliament elections in Bangladesh. The experts, set to stay in the country for six to eight weeks, will focus on assessing election-related violence. 

Diplomatic sources reveal that two US research institutes, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), communicated this initiative in a letter to the Election Commission (EC) Secretariat on Monday (20 November).

In their letter to the EC, NDI and IRI specified that four experts and one expert coordinator would be deployed to Bangladesh for an extended period, working for six to eight weeks. These experts are scheduled to arrive in Bangladesh a couple of weeks prior to the election. 

Their primary task involves assessing incidents of election-related violence, particularly examining violence between political parties, internal conflicts within a political party, violence against women and minorities, online harassment, and threats. Additionally, the experts will evaluate the role of government organisations in these situations.

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The joint letter, signed by Jami Spykerman, NDI's Asia Pacific programme director, and Stephen Cime, IRI's regional director for South Asia, outlines the mission's goal of identifying those responsible for the violence in the 12th National elections and its impact.

The expert mission is expected to provide necessary recommendations to mitigate violence in future elections. Furthermore, the experts from NDI and IRI will make their assessments public and submit a comprehensive report to the election commission.

In October, a delegation from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) visited Dhaka to assess the pre-election political situation, taking into consideration the environment surrounding the upcoming national parliament elections in Bangladesh.

The delegation conducted separate meetings with key figures, including senior members of the Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Election Commission, the Awami League, various political parties including the BNP, civil society representatives, foreign diplomats, and other stakeholders.

Upon returning to Washington, the delegation put forward a five-point recommendation aimed at resolving the political deadlock in Bangladesh.

The recommendations emphasised the need for political parties to engage in open dialogue, with the goal of achieving realistic, lasting, and credible change. However, despite these recommendations, the anticipated dialogues did not materialise.