Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley on Thursday appreciated the government’s “very open approach” towards the foreign observers for the next national election noting that the EU is keen to follow the polls closely.
“I would say we very much welcomed the statement by the foreign minister (Dr AK Abdul Momen) the other day where he said Bangladesh would welcome and have an open approach to any foreign observation missions that would wish to come and follow the elections,” he said.
The diplomat made the remarks while responding to a question at a programme titled “Meet the Reporters” hosted by the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) at its Nasrul Hamid Auditorium. DRU President Nazrul Islam Mithu and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke at the event.
The EU envoy said they follow elections closely all around the world and every year they identify 30 priority countries for EU election observation missions. “And so those priorities for 2023 haven't yet been established.”
Ambassador Whiteley clearly said the elections are of great interest and they have a very wide ranging relationship with Bangladesh; and that includes engagement in governance and other issues.
“I think that shows a very open approach and we're certainly keen to follow the elections closely with that in mind,” he said, mentioning that they have seen the steps that the government is now taking in terms of the relevant law.
Bangladesh is going to have a legal framework for selecting the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners as parliament passed the “Appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022" on Thursday.
Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Haq moved the Bill and it was passed by voice vote.
Law Minister Anisul Huq placed the Bill in parliament on January 23 seeking to give a legal shield to the current and previous Election Commissions formed through search committees. It was sent to the respective scrutiny committee for deeper examination.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Ambassador said they are often referred to as the development partner in their relations with Bangladesh. “But the relationship isn't just about development. You know, the relationship is far more intense and wide ranging now than the traditional development partner relationship we had for many years.”
He said they will celebrate with Bangladesh to commemorate those 50 years and look forward to the coming decades to further deepen the relations and importantly to witness the transition of Bangladesh into developing country status from an LDC status.
The Ambassador said there are challenges on the path to transition and he thinks the government is well aware of those challenges.