EU hopeful of ‘contested, free, fair’ polls: Envoy
The European Union on Wednesday reiterated its position and explained why they are unable to send a full-fledged election observation mission hoping that there will be a “good, contested, free and fair” election in Bangladesh.
“I’m very happy that we’ve a good team of two experts,” EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink told reporters saying the two EU election experts will look into the whole electoral process and probably make some recommendations to their headquarters in Brussels.
She made the remarks after a meeting with the Election Commission where two EU election experts – David Noel Ward (team leader) and Eirini-Maria Gounari were formally introduced.
Teerink said the EU is not sending a full-fledged observer mission due to time constraint but the visit of the two experts shows that the EU is very interested in elections in Bangladesh. “We’re following this very closely.”
Replying to a question, the Ambassador said it takes lot of preparation and the EU needs to start preparation at least six months in advance if they want to send a full-fledged observer mission.
“There is a lot of pressure and interest from all our partner countries to get election observation mission. So, the decision is made in headquarters based on prioritisation. We can’t honour all requests for observers. That’s the problem,” she said adding that there should not be read something into it.
Responding to another question, the EU envoy said it is very difficult for them to give suggestion on such a major undertaking but they have wished them (EC) best of luck because it is a very challenging and big operation (holding polls)with 104 million voters and 40,000 election centres.
The four-member EU team sat in the meeting to introduce the EU experts with the EC so that they can contact with it and start their job here, she said.
“We had a very good meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner and his colleagues,” Teerink said adding that the two experts will be here for 40 days.
She also said it is justified to send an expert mission to know what is going on here.
The EU Ambassador said sending the expert mission is helpful and shows commitment of the EU to Bangladesh.
Earlier, the European Parliament said it will not observe the general election in Bangladesh scheduled to be held on December 30.
No individual Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has been mandated to observe or comment on this electoral process on its behalf, according to the statement issued by MEPs David McAllister (EPP, DE) and Linda McAvan (S&D, UK).
The co-chairs of the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election coordination group said they will not observe this electoral process and consequently will neither comment on the process nor on the results that will be announced afterwards.
Besides, there will be no European Union Election Observation Mission, reads the statement.
Any statement made by Members of the European Parliament on these elections, therefore, do not represent in any way the view of the European Parliament or the European Union, they said.
The European Parliament stated its position on the elections in its resolution of November 15, 2018, which expressed the hope that the elections will be “peaceful, transparent and participatory so that citizens can express a genuine political choice.
It called on the political forces to refrain from any violence or instigation of violence during the electoral period.