Democracy must continue in Bangladesh at any cost: PM Hasina

A delegation of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bangladesh paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Place of Residence, the Taj Hotel, in London

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said democracy must continue in Bangladesh at any cost, reiterating her commitment to hold the next general election in a free and fair manner.  

“Democracy should continue in Bangladesh at any cost. In no way, the undemocratic forces can assume power,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, now in London, said this when a delegation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bangladesh paid a courtesy call on her at her Place of Residence, the Taj Hotel.

Rushanara Ali MP, chair of APPG on Bangladesh and on Rohingya and the Shadow Minister for Investment and Small Business led the delegation.

Other members comprising the delegation are: APPG on Bangladesh members, Vice Chair Virendra Sharma MP, Vice Chair Valerie Vaz MP, Vice Chair Imran Hussain MP, and Foysol Choudhury MSP, Chair, Cross-party Group on Bangladesh at the Scottish Parliament.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen briefed newspersons after the courtesy call.

Sheikh Hasina told the APPG delegation that they are committed to hold a free and fair election, saying all the reforms required to this end have already been made.

The prime minister mentioned they have enacted a law for formation of the new election commission (EC) through a search committee and giving the EC complete administrative and financial independence to work independently to hold free and fair elections.  

She also said the voter list was prepared with photographs and transparent ballot boxes in line with her party Awami League’s proposal placed while it was in opposition.  

The APPGs delegation has expressed their satisfaction over preparation to hold a free and fair election in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has offered the AAPGs delegation to send an election observer team to oversee the next general election, Momen told the media.

All the members of the AAPGs have highly praised the remarkable development of Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

The prime minister, in reply, said the massive development of Bangladesh has been possible due to having continued democracy and stable situation for long years.  

Sheikh Hasina expressed her satisfaction over the existing bilateral relations with Britain, saying that Bangladesh has been doing various businesses with them and British investment in Bangladesh has been increasing.  

The prime minister also sought larger investment from the UK, particularly in renewable energy citing that 100 special economic zones and 39 high-tech parks are being set up across Bangladesh.  

She offered the UK a dedicated economic zone in Bangladesh likewise South Korea, India and Japan.  

Regarding the Rohingya issue, the prime minister has sought cooperation from the UK to send them back to their homeland, saying, “Rohingyas want to go to their motherland, Myanmar.”

Bangladesh has also sought attention from the UK to take measures for raising humanitarian funds for the Rohingyas, which has been showing a decreasing trend recently, Momen said.  

The British government has committed to support Bangladesh in the International Court of Justice over the Rohingya issue, he added.  

Speaking about the Ukraine war, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh never wants any war rather to resolve any issue through discussion.

In this regard she referred to the inhuman experience of Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 saying, “We never want war as the poor people, particularly women and children suffer immensely from the war.”

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister's Office (PMO) secretary Mohammad Salahuddin, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem and PM's Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam, were present during the meeting.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, FCDO Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations and Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Member of the House of Lords from the Conservative Party and Chair of the British Asian Trust also paid courtesy calls separately on the Bangladesh prime minister.

Gopichand Hinduja, Chairman Hinduja Group, Prakash P Hinduja, Chairman, Hinduja Group (Europe), Ashok Hinduja and Dheeraj Hinduja, Chairman, Ashok Leyland also met Sheikh Hasina.  

Lord Rami Ranger, patron of Conservative Friends of India and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indo-Pacific and eminent international human rights lawyer Professor Payam Akhavan separately paid a courtesy call on the prime minister.  

Ms. Cherie Blair, Co-Founder and Chair, OMNIA is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on prime minister Sheikh Hasina this evening (2 Oct).