Diplomats from 14 development partner countries of Bangladesh have expressed their strong desire to see the next general election in Bangladesh peaceful and participatory by ensuring voting rights of all citizens.
The diplomats representing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organisation, on Sunday urged the Election Commission (EC) to hold the next general election in a free, fair and credible manner to ensure citizen's voting rights.
They made the call at a meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs) at the Nirbachan Bhaban in Dhaka as a 14-member delegation headed by European Union Ambassador to Dhaka Charles Whiteley took part in the meeting.
Emerging from the meeting, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard said at a press briefing that the OECD countries, placing the strong importance on democratic values, welcomed the commitment made by the Bangladesh Election Commission to hold free, fair and credible national elections.
"To uphold and ensure citizens voting rights, make the country’s democracy more robust and effective, ensure an electoral environment that is participatory and free from violence and intimidation, and support the media and civil society to play critical roles are shared responsibilities for all stakeholders, including political parties," she said.
"As longstanding and committed friends and partners of Bangladesh, our countries stand ready to consider any requests for support from the Bangladesh Election Commission to promote democratic practices and realise citizens' aspirations and we are looking forward continuing our exchange with chief Election Commissioner in the months to come," she added.
Later, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal told reporters that the visit of the OECD member countries' representatives was a tradition.
He said that the delegation offered to assist the EC in the commission's capacity building as well as in the process of holding a free and fair general election.
"We didn't seek any help form them instantly. We have said that we will hold a meeting in this regard," the CEC said.
Replying to a question, the CEC said that they were aware about the lack of consensus among the political parties.
"We hope a consensus among the parties would be ensured before the elections," he added.
Among others, British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson, US Ambassador Peter Haas, Canadian High Commissioner Lilly Nicholls, Danish Ambassador Winnie Estrup Petersen, France Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Guillaume Audren de Kerdrel, German Ambassador Achim Tröster, Italian Ambassador Enrico Nunziata, Dutch Ambassador Anne Gerard van Leeuwen, Norwegian Ambassador Espen Rikter-Svendsen, Spanish Ambassador Francisco de Asis Benitez Salas, Swiss Ambassador Nathalie Chuard, Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Osman Turan and Deputy Head of the Embassy of Japan Yamaya Hiroyuki were present in the delegation.
There is a constitutional obligation of holding the next general election by January 2024.