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No arrest on political grounds, Momen tells EU team

Published : Friday, 29 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 174

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has informed the European Union Election Expert Mission that law enforcers did not arrest any political leaders and activists, they arrested those who had links with terrorist activities, whose faces had appeared in the CCTV footage.

"In response to their question regarding the arrest of BNP activists, I told them that law enforcers did not arrest any leaders and activists on political ground; they arrested those who had links with terrorist activities, whose faces had appeared in the CCTV footage. They have arrested those who are criminals," he told reporters at his residence in Sylhets Dhopadighir area on Wednesday night.

The EU special monitoring team sat with the Foreign Minister to discuss election issues from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. However, the two members of the EU monitoring team did not speak to the media after the meeting.

The two visiting officials are Legal and Human Rights Expert Rebecca Cox and Media/Social Media Expert Charlotte Souibes. They also sat with several BNP leaders in Sylhet.

Talking to reporters, the Minister said that he has briefed the governments plans for the coming days to the team.

"The EU election observers wanted to know what is in election manifesto of the Awami League.     

I presented the election manifesto to them," he said.

He further said that the government has done everything necessary for free and fair elections.

"This time there will be no fake vote. This year, we have a transparent ballot box. Everyone will see how many votes have been cast. The biggest thing is that we have formed a strong Election Commission, which will perform all duties during the election."

"We want people from across the world to come and see, and learn from us," he said while talking to journalists after his meeting with a team of European Union (EU) experts at his residence on Wednesday night.

Momen, however, said the visiting EU team only listened to him as they wanted to know a few things, but did not make any comment on the election. "They didn even want to talk to the media."

He said Bangladesh is a democratic country, and there is a very strong Election Commission in place that is taking all necessary steps to hold a fair election.

He said they want to see a "free, fair, non-violent and transparent" election and achieve the goal of building a "Smart Bangladesh" ensuring peace and stability.

Meanwhile, a BNP delegation met with the EU team around 12pm on the same day. When asked about allegations BNP made to the EU team about arresting their leaders, the foreign minister said the government has not arrested anyone on political grounds but arrested those who were involved in "terrorist activities."

He referred to CCTV footage and statements made by some BNP supporters, mentioning who instructed them to carry out arson attacks and vandalism.

The Foreign Minister said some big countries want Bangladesh to purchase things from them, but Bangladesh does not do so at the cost of sacrificing public interests.

"Thats why they are unhappy to some extent. But we follow our principles. If you stand by your principles, your dignity will be enhanced," Momen said.

He also talked about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas desire to build a "Sonar Bangla" and a "Smart Bangladesh."

"We want peace. We want stability. We don want terrorism. We want freedom of media and freedom of speech. We want the continuation of democracy. We want more job opportunities," Momen told the reporters, referring to Awami Leagues election manifesto.

Before going to Sylhet, Momen talked with the reporters  highlighting the importance of peace and stability for greater development, he said they do not want to see any "proxy war" in the region.

"Our main goal is that we do not want to see any proxy war here. Problems remain there where we see proxy war despite having resources. Europe has fallen into proxy war and is facing challenges," he told reporters, noting that there might be efforts to make the countries in the region weaker.

Momen said Bangladesh has taken a leadership role in the region and other countries acknowledge this.

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