January 17, 2023
DHAKA – Washington will be focusing on whether there is intimidation during the next national elections due early next year and say it publicly, considering that it is important for the democracies to provide feedback and encourage each other for better democracies, said Donald Lu, US assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
“We will focus if there is intimidation of voters or the leaders during the elections from the government, opposition or the law enforcing agencies, and we will say it publicly,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star following his meetings with the ministers, officials and civil society leaders yesterday.
The US official said the main focus of his visit to Bangladesh is to show that the US is a reliable partner of Bangladesh and that the two countries share the vision of Bangladeshi people for a stronger democracy, more prosperity and for stability.
“Bangladesh is an important democracy in South Asia. Like all of us, Bangladesh has an imperfect democracy. I hope Bangladesh will be working hard to make sure that as it moves towards elections, they’re focused on the ability on the government and opposition to work peacefully together, to protect freedom of assembly so people can gather peacefully, but also freedom of speech,” he said.
“As Americans, we’ll condemn violence where we see it, if it’s on the part of opposition or on the part of government and security forces.”
Lu said it is important as democracies that they provide that sort of feedback and really encourage each other to be better democracies.
“I have every confidence that Bangladesh will be able to rise to the occasion and have a good election,” he added
When asked about the rumour about new sanctions, Donald Lu said he hopes not.
“Normally, we impose sanctions on the anniversary [December 10]. We would have designated more individuals from the Rab to face individual sanctions. We didn’t do that because we recognise the progress being made by the government and by the Rab itself to reform.
“We would like to see more reforms, but we mean to encourage this process going forward…that they are an effective law enforcement unit, but without human rights violations.”