British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Sunday said the next national election in Bangladesh is going to be a “very important moment” for all which will help the country build better and productive relationship with its friends globally.
The envoy said this at the “Meet the Reporters” programme hosted by Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) where he expressed his hope for a “fair and credible” process for the elections due at the end of 2023.
“There’s ample capacity in Bangladesh to run a free and fair election,” he said, reiterating that election needs to be “Bangladesh-led” and it is not for Bangladesh’s friends to say how this process should run.
The high commissioner said the United Kingdom (UK) and their international partners support the “plural and transparent” democracy in Bangladesh provided in the Constitution.
Highlighting the importance of a credible Election Commission, he said it will be easier for everybody to have a “productive friendship” with Bangladesh if the election is carried out in a way which is “free, fair and credible.”
Dickson said there will be better relationship between Bangladesh and its friends after a credible election.
Globally, he said, long term stability and economic growth flourish best in open and democratic societies with strong institutions, public accountability and competitive elections.
The envoy appreciated the milestones such as the Election Commission formation process and laid emphasis on strong commitments from all parties on a “free and fair” process.
He said they are supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response in Bangladesh and provided 4.1 million vaccines under Covax in December last year. “We hope to provide more soon.”
He said they have been supporting the Bangladesh ministry of health to develop a well-coordinated national response plan, resourced by all the development partners and the government of Bangladesh.
Dickson also talked about Bangladesh-UK flourishing defence relations, human rights issues, trade and investment and climate partnership and media freedom.
“We’ll continue to exchange expertise, share technology, facilitate partnerships, and identify practical solutions to common climate challenges, with the shared aim of producing the real change we need to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees,” he said.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the UK, following Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic press conference at Claridges’ Hotel, his meeting with PM Edward Heath and his return to a newly liberated Bangladesh by the Royal Air Force.
In the intervening half century the relationship has been transformed, said the British envoy.
In the 50th year of “Brit-Bangla Bondhon”, the two countries are building on all the links that exist between Bangladesh and the UK, including the diaspora, the 600,000 people living in the UK with Bangladeshi heritage, and the much wider range of links that exist between the two countries on security, defence, climate, COVID-19, trade, and a whole range of issues on which we work very closely with friends and partners in and beyond government in Bangladesh.
DRU President Nazrul Islam Mithu and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke welcoming the envoy.