US Congressmen meet with 3 major political parties at envoy’s residence

Ed Case and Richard McCormick (left to right)

Visiting two US Congressmen held a meeting with the leaders of three major political parties -- governing Bangladesh Awami League, its major political rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the opposition in parliament Jatiya Party -- in Dhaka on Sunday.

The meeting was held at the residence of the US ambassador in Dhaka Peter D. Haas in the capital’s Gulshan. The one-and-a-half-hour meeting began at 4:00 pm.

Sources said Awami League finance and planning secretary Waseqa Ayesha Khan, MP, Nahim Razzaq, MP, and Tamanna Nusrat Bubly, MP, represented the party in the meeting while the BNP’s delegation consisted of the party’s publicity secretary and former lawmaker Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie and the JaPa delegation consisted of MPs Sharifa Quader, Rana Mohammad Sohail and Nazma Akther.

US Congressmen Rich McCormick of Georgia and Ed Case of Hawaii and the US ambassador Peter Haas were present at the meeting.

Sources present at the meeting said BNP’s Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie presented their party’s stance mentioning that a free, fair and impartial election cannot be held under the present government. He also said BNP will not join the polls without a caretaker government alleging that a single person is running the country now.

Asked, Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie told Prothom Alo that they said a fair election is not possible under this government and they have highlighted the background of their one-point movement.

On the other hand, Awami League delegation told the meeting that it is not possible to keep any rule that contradicts the Constitution.

Sources said Congressman Ed Case told the AL delegation that not only to your country the election has to be deemed as free, fair and acceptable to the whole world. In response, AL leaders invited them as polls monitor. At the same time, they informed the US delegation about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s pledge to hold a free, fair and acceptable parliament election.

In the discussion, the two Congress members highlighted the issues regarding importance of Bangladesh to the US. One of the reasons is Bangladesh’s geographical location in the Indo-Pacific region and its population number. The US wants Bangladesh to maintain democratic environment especially when this is declining around the globe.

A member of the governing party’s delegation told the US delegation that the government has empowered the election commission by enacting a law.

He further said another law will be tabled in the coming session of parliament. The law will be about ensuring punishment for creating chaos during balloting or hampering the process.

Jatiya Party’s Sharifa Quader told Prothom Alo that they told the US delegation what the party has been saying for a long time – about the necessity of a free, fair and peaceful election and it must be ensured that all partys participate in it.