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All 3 major parties hail US new visa policy

Published : 26 May 2023 01:42 AM | Updated : 26 May 2023 01:42 AM

All  three major political parties-- the ruling Awami League, main opposition in Parliament Jatiya Party and another opposition party BNP--have welcomed the new US visa policy on Bangladesh for the sake of holding free and fair election in the country.

Representatives from AL, BNP and Jatiya Party expressed their respective views after a joint meeting with US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas at his Gulshan residence on Thursday over the latest visa policy of the US. 

Dr Selim Mahmud, Awami League research secretary, and Mohammad A Arafat, AL central committee member, attended the meeting on behalf of the ruling party.

The Jatiya Party was represented by Mujibul Haque Chunnu and the BNP was represented by its standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and organising secretary Shama Obaid.

The US government introduced a new specific visa policy for any Bangladeshi believed to be responsible for undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

Talking to Bangladesh Post, Dr Selim Mahmud said that they had gone to meet the US Ambassador being invited by the embassy over phone on Thursday morning.

“Before we reached the embassy, we did not know whether any other party was invited”, Selim Mahmud said and continued as saying, “After reaching the US embassy, we could know that BNP and Jatiya Party were also invited.”

Asked, Dr Selim Mahmud said, “At the meeting, the US embassy first clarified its views over the new visa policy and later we—AL, BNP and Jatiya Party-- also expressed our own views separately.”  

On behalf of the government and the ruling Awami League, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, “The new US policy rather made our position stronger to hold free and fair election.”

He told this at a media briefing expressing Dhaka’s reaction to his US counterpart Antony Blinken’s announcement.   

He said the “policy is good, nothing to worry about it” adding it mounted no extra pressure on Bangladesh government while Dhaka’s relations with Washington remained excellent.   

The foreign minister expected the new US visa policy would make cautious opposition political parties not to resort to any violence over the elections as “this visa restriction is not only for the ruling party, but for the opposition as well”.   

He said the government did not want arson, violence and destruction.

Jatiya Party Secretary General Advocate Mujibul HaqueChunnu said, "We understand the purpose of the US visa policy regarding Bangladesh; they want the election to be fair and competitive. Our party also agrees on the matter."

Welcoming the new visa policy of the USA targeting the next national election in Bangladesh, BNP on Thursday hoped that it would play a supporting role in ensuring fair elections.

Talking to reporters in front of the party chairperson’s Gulshan office, BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru also said there is no reason for their party to be worried about the USA move since it is involved in vote rigging.

“We welcome this decision of the USA as it was made considering the concern of the people of Bangladesh over the (next general) election. I think this step will help at least play a supporting role in holding the next polls in a fair and credible manner,” he said.

US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas also said Washington's new visa policy is to support Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladeshi people's efforts to hold a free and fair election. 

"This is something we have done in support of Bangladeshi people, and the Bangladeshi government, the Prime Minister herself, and everyone here in Bangladesh who are called for free and fair elections," he said.