Amidst the drizzling weather in Bangladesh, the EU has sent a team of six diplomats for observing the general state affairs of the country as a part of their Election Exploratory Mission as the presidential election of Bangladesh is ahead.
Election observation is one of the established parts of the EU’s foreign policy with respect to support to democracy and human rights and the rule of law amongst its partner countries with the purpose of conducting a democratically global standard election. The Election observation missions analyse the electoral process and provide an independent and impartial assessment of the elections based on a long-term approach. The missions are grounded in international humanitarian law and provide recommendations to improve the democratic process around elections.
“The task of this mission will be to assess the scope, planning, budget, logistics and security of the main election observation mission,” Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, Director-General in-charge of Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters last Thursday.
On the 9th of July, a team of six diplomats arrives in Bangladesh on a visit of two weeks to observe the predisposition of the upcoming national election. The delegation is anticipated to engage in meetings with leaders representing different political parties, including the Opposition BNP, as well as heads of ministries and organizations representing religious minority groups during the fortnight. Riccardo Chelleri, the Policy Officer from the European External Action Service (EEAS), is currently leading the team. He previously led a comparable delegation to Sri Lanka in 2019.
Day 1: Meeting with Diplomats
The EU Delegation began their activities on 9th July with a meeting with twelve diplomatic envoys of the country where ambassadors and representatives from France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Canada and some other countries were present respectively. Furthermore, they had a meeting with Charles Whiteley, the European Union’s Ambassador to Bangladesh. A representative from the Bangladesh government stated that this visit would ultimately determine whether Brussels would send diplomats for observing the forthcoming election in Bangladesh.
“The team will assess the situation of inclusive elections and submit a report of the assessment to European Commission vice chairman Josep Borrell, who will inform media in September about the final decision on sending EU mission for the observation of Bangladesh election,” said Charles Whiteley.
Day 2: Meeting with Foreign Ministry and National Human Rights Commission
On day two of the visit on 10th July, The EU Election Exploratory Mission began their day by meeting senior officials including the Additional Secretary of the Ministry Asad Alam Siam at Foreign Ministry Commission in Dhaka. Later, the delegation was ahead of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh.
The European Union’s (EU) election exploratory mission has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) if there is any risk of violence over the next national election in Bangladesh.
In response, Human Rights Commission Chairman Kamal Uddin Ahmed said, “Till now the country’s human rights situation and election environment is very good.”
Kamal Uddin also added that he is anticipating that the EU will send further Delegation Teams to the elections overall. However, the NHR Commission is keeping an eye on all cases of human rights violations.
Day2: Meeting with Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader
On the same day of 10th July, the EU Delegation meets the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader regarding their agenda.
The European Union (EU) wants peaceful and credible elections in Bangladesh, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader.
“They want a peaceful and credible election in Bangladesh. We discussed what can be done so the democracy of Bangladesh should become stronger,” Quader added.
When asked whether the EU has expressed concern about the upcoming elections, Quader said, “They have not expressed any concern. They hope for the best.”
The EU Delegation of Election Exploration Mission team is scheduled to hold a meeting with the Election Commission on 11 July morning, according to commission sources. Based on the delegation’s report, European Commission Vice President Joseph Borrell will make the final decision on sending a full-fledged EU observer team to the next national elections. The EU delegation is expected to depart on the 23rd of July, 2023.