In her address at the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasised the commitment of her government to conducting the next general election in Bangladesh in a transparent and democratic manner, with a focus on upholding the voting rights of the people. Haslinda Amin, the host and Editor-at-large of QEF, moderated the session, which took place in a crowded audience hall at the Raffles Hotel in Doha.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated that her primary objective is to ensure that the citizens of Bangladesh can exercise their voting rights. She believes that the power to determine who will govern the country lies with the people and that it is their right to choose their government. Her intention is not to seize power but rather to empower the people and enable them to exercise their rights effectively.
Prime Minister pledges transparent elections at QEF
Highlighting the challenges faced during previous administrations, the Prime Minister mentioned that some political parties may be reluctant to participate in the upcoming elections due to past experiences of corruption, nepotism, and exploitation. She asserted that the country witnessed a surge in terror activities and widespread suffering during those periods. The situation was dire, with many people struggling to even secure a single meal per day.
As the President of the Awami League, Sheikh Hasina affirmed that her party, upon returning to power, has worked tirelessly to address these issues and improve the lives of the people. She emphasised that the upcoming election is a fundamental right of the citizens, urging them to exercise their voting rights wisely.
Drawing a parallel with the US presidential election, Sheikh Hasina highlighted the refusal of former President Trump to accept the election results. She emphasized that her government is open to receiving observers from any interested parties to ensure the transparency and fairness of the electoral process.
During the conversation with Haslinda Amin, the Prime Minister indirectly referred to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), stating that it was formed under the rule of a military dictator. She emphasised that while the BNP or any other party with a history of war crimes and the assassination of their parents may not feel comfortable, there are numerous other parties willing to participate in the upcoming election. She expressed her confusion as to why this question keeps arising.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that in 1975, following the assassination of her father, a military dictator seized power and disrupted the entire electoral process, jeopardizing the democratic system.
She further explained that in 1981, while she was absent, her party, the Bangladesh Awami League, elected her as its president. Since then, she has been actively engaged in the struggle for democracy and the voting rights of the people, advocating for their right to exercise their adult franchise.
IMF loan as a cushion for Bangladesh’s economy
Addressing a query about an IMF loan, the Prime Minister stated that Bangladesh’s economy is progressing smoothly and not suffering. The loan is sought to provide a cushion to the economy. She emphasised that the IMF carefully assesses the ability of a country to repay its loans before providing financial assistance. Bangladesh is in a position to repay the loan and fulfill its financial obligations.
Regarding the rise in energy and power prices, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina acknowledged that this is a global issue affecting many countries, including Bangladesh. The government is actively exploring alternative energy sources such as renewable energy and solar panels to sustain progress.
When asked about the possibility of purchasing oil from Russia, the Prime Minister clarified that Bangladesh has not purchased oil from Russia before. However, she expressed openness to exploring options for oil supply from wherever it is available. She reiterated that Bangladesh follows a clear foreign policy of friendship to all and malice to none. The country maintains a non-partisan stance and does not interfere in the conflicts of other nations.
Sheikh Hasina emphasised the need to focus on national development and meeting the demands of the people. The goal is to create a better and more developed life for the citizens of Bangladesh.