UK for sustainable pluralist democracy in Bangladesh

Next election in Bangladesh to be inclusive, hopes UK; Hasina-Theresa May meeting in NY likely in Sept

08 Aug 2017, 21:50 | updated: 08 Aug 2017, 23:34

Online Desk

Dhaka: The United Kingdom on Tuesday laid emphasis on having a pluralist choice of healthy democracy, and encouraged all parties in Bangladesh to take part in the next elections making democracy a sustainable one.

"Number one, please participate. And secondly, let's have a fair and transparent election because those are foundations for ensuring sustainable democracy for the long term," said visiting UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State Lord Ahmad.

Lord Ahmad, also British Prime Minister's special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, said they are, of course, "disappointed" that not everyone participated in the last election.

He said they are "certainly impressing" on all concerned, all parties, and anyone seeking to participate in the elections because that provides the "pluralistic" choice of healthy democracy.

"And in doing so it's also important to ensure that elections are transparent, free and fair. I think, we'll be impressing all concerned those aspects are carry forward," he said while talking to two journalists. UNB obtained the audio of the brief conversation.

The British Minister talked about "huge opportunity" to celebrate the pluralistic nature of democracy in Bangladesh in 2021 when Bangladesh will celebrate the 50 years of independence.

Mentioning strong ties between the UK and Bangladesh, he said they are a strong advocate of having a democracy which is sustainable.

He said pluralist and healthy democracy will help Bangladesh make its all development initiatives sustainable for the long term.

The United Kingdom on Tuesday expressed the hope that Bangladesh's next general election will be an inclusive one.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Lord Ahmad also expressed the hope that Bangladesh's next general election will be an inclusive one.

After the meeting at her official residence Ganobhaban in the afternoon, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters.

While talking about the UK's exit from the European Union, known as Brexit, he said it will not affect Bangladesh and its (Bangladesh) trade benefits will continue as well.

He urged the Prime Minister to take the leadership of girl education and women empowerment in the Commonwealth Summit to be held next year.

Highly praising Bangladesh's stunning socioeconomic development under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the British state minister said, "Bangladesh has an incredible story to tell ... and under your dynamic leadership, Bangladesh is going to be a middle-income country."

About terrorism, he said the world will have to act together to contain terrorism and stop human trafficking.

The British PM's special representative praised the zero-tolerance policy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against all kinds of violence and extremism.

He discussed the issue of counter terrorism and violent extremism during his meeting with State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam held at state guesthouse Padma.

The British minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her British counterpart Theresa May are likely to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York in September.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit New York on September 17-22, a senior official told UNB.

Lord Ahmad praised the zero-tolerance policy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against all kinds of violence and extremism.

The two ministers also discussed the consequence of internet and social media abuse to create social unrest and terrorism across the globe.

The UK minister also praised Sheikh Hasina for her commendable success in gender equality, girl's education and women empowerment and requested Bangladesh to take lead in these sectors in Commonwealth cooperation.

He also appreciated the incorporation of religious education in the curricula of primary and secondary education to stop the spread of radicalism and extremism.

State Minister Shahriar Alam requested his counterpart to recognise March 25 as Genocide Day and also requested to return the convicted war criminal Mueen Uddin Chowdhury who is now living in the UK, said the Foreign Ministry here.

Lord Ahmad is the first British Minister in Theresa May government formed after the June snap elections who is visiting Bangladesh.

He also served as Transport Minister in the first government of Prime Minister Theresa May.

The two ministers discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

While mentioning the future plan of strengthening the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad requested active participation of Bangladesh in the Commonwealth process and in the next CHOGM Summit to be held in London in April 2018.

He praised the role of Bangladesh in peacekeeping operations, especially the participation of women peacekeepers.

The UK minister said their government is looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to London to participate in the Commonwealth Summit to be held in the spring of 2018.