The United States has said it is pleased that Bangladesh will welcome international observers during the next election. Speaking at a seminar at Bangladesh Institute for International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in Dhaka on Sunday, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas said that holding elections consistent with international standards is not just about the day votes are actually cast. Truly democratic elections require the space for civic discourse to take place, an environment where journalists can investigate without fear, and the ability for civil society organisations to advocate broadly, said Ambassador Haas. He asserted that the US will not pick a side in the upcoming elections and hoped that the Bangladeshi people will freely decide who will run their country.
Elaborating upon the sanctions on some sitting and retired officials of Bangladesh’s elite law enforcement agency Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Peter Hass said that there is no scope for repeal of sanctions without concrete action and accountability. He said the US wants RAB to combat transnational crime and terrorism, enhance border security and prevent violent extremism.
Allaying misconceptions about military agreements like General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), Ambassador Haas said that they don’t reflect an ‘alliance’ or ‘military pact’ or any vague defence cooperation agreement like the one Bangladesh signed with China in 2002. They are technical agreements to forge closer relationships to advance Bangladesh Armed Forces Goal 2030.
Peter Haas called upon Bangladesh to work towards ensuring labour rights in order to benefit from the USD 4 billion fund of Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).