US President Joe Biden’s recent letter to Prime Minister Hasina reinforces US-Bangladesh collaboration and praises Bangladesh’s commitment to democracy
US President Joe Biden affirmed the US’s commitment to assisting Bangladesh in attaining its economic objectives, endorsing their ambitious plans. Additionally, Biden committed to addressing regional and global security, economic development, climate change, energy, global health, and humanitarian aid, particularly for Rohingya refugees. On February 4, 2024, he expressed his desire to collaborate with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through a letter.
You can also read: Biden Writes to PM Hasina for Strengthening US-Bangladesh Ties
Biden’s letter sent a thunderbolt to the sanctions gamblers who thought from the beginning of the election that the United States would impose sanctions on Bangladesh after the election. President Biden‘s letter now puts an end to the speculation and criticism surrounding this matter. It also demonstrates how transparent and free Bangladesh’s 12th National Assembly elections were.
Following the 12th Parliament election ceremony on January 7, 2024, numerous countries and organizations extended congratulations to Prime Minister Hasina. Earlier, on January 18, United Nations Secretary-General Anthony Guterres conveyed his congratulations to Prime Minister Hasina. Guterres praised Bangladesh’s contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, support for Rohingya refugees, and commitment to sustainable development goals. Guterres also lauded Prime Minister Hasina’s leadership in addressing global crises and expressed the UN’s determination to collaborate with Bangladesh for the betterment of its citizens.
Transparent Election Observations
Due to geopolitical reasons, the international world was widely interested in the election of Bangladesh, but the US position had reached a point of excess. On the other hand, India, China, and Russia stood by the Bangladesh government with the same position.
A total of 127 foreign observers and 59 media representatives monitored the election proceedings, affirming its fairness, freedom, and impartiality. Representatives from the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Norway, and Japan jointly declared in a press conference, “After a comprehensive assessment, all observers concur that Bangladesh’s twelfth parliamentary election unfolded peacefully, with broad public participation.” Observations made at polling centers indicated no voter hindrances or intimidation, underscoring the positive implications for democracy and electoral rights.
“We are satisfied with the overall electoral atmosphere in Bangladesh,”
– Andrei Shutov, the Russian observer (The head of the Russian delegation)
Mainly the issues that foreigners have observed in this election are – the election process, voter attendance, freedom of voters, and violence. Bangladesh has crossed each of its parameters with great success. No one could seriously complain about the election process. Voter turnout was not satisfactory but not below international standards. About 41.8 percent of voters cast their votes. There was no influence from the government party on the voter turnout. Due to this 62 independent candidates were elected. And compared to any previous election, it can be said that there was no incident of violence in this election.
These observations underscore the transparency and fairness of the electoral process, validating its integrity and impartiality.
BNP Anticipation vs. US Strategy
For the past two years, the United States has been keeping a sharp eye on Bangladesh elections, but a segment of self-proclaimed intellectuals, including members of the BNP have translated it as encouragement for them to get back in power. They thought that the United States visa policy would go far to bring the Sheikh Hasina government under heavy restrictions, even including economic sanctions.
The US visa policy concerning the Bangladesh elections on May 3, 2023, prompted BNP leaders and supporters to anticipate an imminent downfall of the government. Consequently, they announced One Point’s demand to oust Sheikh Hasina and set a date for the government’s downfall.
In the lead-up to the elections, the BNP-Jamaat alliance intensified political tensions by leveraging the threat of US sanctions and visa restrictions, investing considerable resources in hiring lobbyists to advocate for sanctions against the government.
The United States employed a strategy of imposing sanctions to maintain pressure on the government, with the objective extending beyond just ensuring fair and free elections.
However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina defiantly opposed the ban, disregarding its implications. On May 15, 2023, during a press conference, she proclaimed, “We will not engage with those who impose bans on us.” At the Permanent Mission of the United Nations on September 23, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina further declared, “Should external forces attempt to sabotage the elections, the people of Bangladesh will reciprocate with sanctions.” She emphasized the necessity of ensuring that external entities refrain from interfering with the electoral process.
Around World Human Rights Day on December 10, 2023, supporters of the BNP and Jamaat campaigned brutally, anticipating further US sanctions on Bangladesh. However, the US announced sanctions on 37 individuals from 13 countries did not include a single one from Bangladesh. The absence of sanctions led to disappointment among leaders and activists ahead of the elections.
In conclusion, President Biden’s recent letter to Prime Minister Hasina solidifies US-Bangladesh collaboration across various fronts, marking a positive shift from previous positions.