As Bangladesh gears up for its upcoming national election, both the United Nations and the United States have underscored the importance of conducting "free and fair" elections in the South Asian nation.
In a regular media briefing held in New York on November 1, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, emphasized the UN's commitment to ensuring a transparent electoral process in Bangladesh. Dujarric stated, "I think on our viewpoint on Bangladesh and the need for free and fair election, I think we've spoken out very clearly." The UN official also expressed the organization's stance against any harassment, arbitrary arrests, or violence during the electoral period.
Meanwhile, the government of Bangladesh has announced that the next national election is scheduled to take place either at the end of 2023 or during the first week of 2024. Officials have pledged that the election will be "free, fair, and peaceful," and that the participation of all political parties is encouraged.
US State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller also reiterated the United States' commitment to supporting the will of the Bangladeshi people in their pursuit of free and fair elections. Speaking during a separate briefing in Washington on November 1, Miller emphasized, "I have said a number of times, the holding of free and fair elections is the responsibility of everyone — all political parties, voters, the government, security forces, civil society." He made it clear that the United States stands behind the Bangladeshi people's desire for elections to be conducted peacefully and fairly.
In response to questions about an individual named Mian Zahidul Islam Arefy, who claimed to be an "adviser to US President Joe Biden," Miller stated, "I do not have any comment on this individual's actions other than to reiterate what the US embassy says, which is, he does not represent the United States Government." Arefy has reportedly told authorities that he was following instructions he received at the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) office.
As Bangladesh approaches its next national election, international pressure continues to mount for a transparent and equitable electoral process, ensuring the will of the Bangladeshi people is upheld. Both the United Nations and the United States have made it clear that they support the call for free and fair elections in the country.