Amid multi-faceted challenges, polling for the 12th National Assembly elections ended peacefully on January 7, 2024, across the country. Polling was held simultaneously in 42103 centers of 299 constituencies from 8 am to 4 pm. Observers from OIC, Russia, Palestine, and Gambia have expressed satisfaction with the election. They said, we have spoken to voters and candidate agents, and we are satisfied. The US and Australian observers also call the election free and fair. Those international observers visited several centers.
“We are satisfied with the overall electoral atmosphere in Bangladesh,”– Andrei Shutov, the Russian observer
They expressed their satisfaction by holding a joint press conference at Hotel Sonargaon in the capital after the polling ended on Sunday evening (7th January 2024). The election observers from the Russian Federation, OIC Mission, South Asian Federation, Arab Parliament, a Scottish parliament member, and a Gambian representative were present at the press conference. Around 127 foreign observers are currently in Dhaka to observe the 12th national election.
Foreign Observers’ Views on the 12th National Election
After visiting the polling centers contentment from different countries foreign observers are as follows;
At the press conference, Sheikh Mohammad Bandar, head of the election unit of the OIC, said, “As observers, we have not seen any sign of violence.” I was surprised, why closed the shop! No people were seen on the road. The city was quiet.
Speaking about his association with the Arab Electoral Management Body, the head of the election unit of the OIC said, “In addition to my country, I will also submit a report to that organization (Arab Electoral Management Body). That is why it was important to respond to this invitation. He also said that the most important thing is the exchange of experience. Your experience and what I and my colleagues in Bangladesh saw today. We learned from each other on this trip. It was a professional visit. We are satisfied with the election environment. We have seen a good electoral process.
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Shaoquett Moselmane, who traveled from Australia to monitor the election, commended the fairness of the process for voters. Following their visit to the polling centers in Dhaka College on Sunday, Moselmane stated, “We observed a high level of security and transparency, making it a fair and free process so far. This is crucial for us as international observers.”
Accompanied by Jim Bates, a former US congressman, and Anders Nils Henry Nordin from Norway, the observers held a media briefing at 11 am after inspecting three centers in Dhaka College. Anders Nils Henry Nordin mentioned that they found the voting process to be peaceful but expressed concern about the low voter turnout.
Jim Bates shared his initial confusion about the expectation of a low voter turnout, stating, “I was puzzled when I arrived because everyone kept talking about expecting a low voter turnout. In the United States, the voting process takes three weeks, with late ballots accepted, and it goes on for a month. So, the turnout is higher when you have days and months, but here you’re just voting from 8 am to 4 pm. It’s misleading to use the term ‘low turnout’ for a process that operates efficiently within that timeframe.”
Bates expressed gratitude for journalists who expose the truth amid a backdrop of misinformation, stating, “Thank goodness for journalists who uphold the truth because there are so many lies these days, and journalists play a crucial role in revealing the facts.”
In the aftermath of the 12th National Assembly elections in Bangladesh, foreign observers, including representatives from OIC, Russia, Palestine, Gambia, the US, and Australia, expressed overall satisfaction with the electoral process. The joint press conference highlighted the absence of violence, a quiet city, and a high level of security, emphasizing the fairness and transparency of the elections. Overall, international observers deemed the election free, fair, and commendable.