UNB, Dhaka :
The United States has indicated their new Bangladesh-specific visa policy will help Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government in its efforts to hold free and fair elections.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government have committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh. This policy is designed to support these efforts and the Bangladeshi people, so they may hold elections to choose their leaders,” said the US Embassy in Dhaka, in a message to journalists just after the new policy was announced.
The United States said they support free and fair elections everywhere.
The message also contained a set of FAQs with responses, through which it clarified certain points that may likely arise in people’s minds.
To start with, the US Embassy said this policy applies to any individual responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh. This includes current or former Bangladeshi officials, government supporters, and opposition members, among others. This would also include the immediate family members of such persons.
The United States said they are committed to building a strong partnership with the government of Bangladesh grounded in democracy and human rights.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s expressed commitment to holding free and fair elections,” said the US Embassy.
The United States emphasised it does not support any particular political party, and that their handling of this policy would not favour anyone over another – except on the grounds of undermining electoral democracy.
“Restrictions under this new policy target individuals engaging in behavior that undermines the democratic election process, regardless of affiliation.”
It also assured that it is a general practice to notify individuals whose visas are revoked or cancelled.
Given US’ “close cooperation” with the government of Bangladesh, the US informed it of this policy decision on May 3.