EU stamp of approval on Bangla polls

Dhaka, November 18:

The European Union said today Bangladesh’s army-backed government had created an environment to hold “fair and credible” elections next month in the emergency-ruled South Asian nation.

Bangladesh has been under emergency rule for two years which contravenes EU rules for observing elections. But the head of the European Commission Delegation to Bangladesh, Stefan Frowein, said in a statement that although the government had not lifted the emergency, it had relaxed emergency rules enough for the EU to send observers. “The decision to redeploy the full Election Observation Mission constitutes a recognition of the impressive progress made by the government, the Election Commission and other authorities to create conditions to a conducive, fair and credible election,” Frowein said. Bangladesh’s interim authorities plan to hold elections, the first in the country in seven years, on December 18, to return the country to democratic rule.

The EU’s announcement comes a day after former PM and the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, said her party would boycott the polls unless the emergency was lifted.