Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said complaining to foreigners will bring no benefits to BNP and suggested that the opposition party reach out to voters at the grassroots and listen to them.
“These are very unfortunate. They should go to voters at the grassroots level. Foreigners will not cast votes, rather the people of Bangladesh will do that,” he said when a reporter drew his attention to a BNP delegation meeting US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas on Sunday.
Momen referred to his recent visit to his constituency in Sylhet and said political leaders’ efforts should be focused on people’s welfare.
“If you discuss with grassroots voters, you will understand what can be done for further development,” he said.
Responding to a question, Momen said the US wants “free and fair elections” and they (AL) want the same. “There is no difference in opinion (on the election issue).”
He said the US wants to strengthen its relations with Bangladesh and the US ambassador is an expert on trade and investment issues. “We hope efforts on trade development will be expedited and the ambassa-dor will emphasize on it.”
Regarding his recent meeting with the US Secretary of State, Momen said the Bangladesh side answered the questions that the US had including a question on the Digital Security Act (DSA).
Bangladesh is examining the issue as in some areas application of the DSA might not be done correctly. “We are examining it. If there is any weakness, we will take care of it,” said the foreign minister.
Momen said the US is “pretty happy” with Bangladesh’s response as both sides want to avoid unneces-sary harassment.
He said Bangladesh fought for establishing democracy, justice, freedom of press and religion and Bang-ladesh which gave blood does not need to take any lesson from others. “We told them our story and shared our position.”
Bangladesh has conveyed to the USA that the Digital Security Act (DSA) is not meant for restricting the freedom of press, noting that the government believes in freedom of press.
“We said we enacted the Digital Security Act, but it is not to curb the freedom of press. Awami League believes in freedom of press,” Momen told the US side during his meeting with Blinken in Washington DC.
Momen mentioned the presence of a huge number of newspapers and private television channels in Bangladesh which he described as “hyperactive”.
At the meeting, Blinken expressed concerns about “violence against and intimidation of the media and civil society,” including under the Digital Security Act, according to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel.
Asked whether the government feels any pressure amid repeated calls for holding free and fair elections in Bangladesh, Momen said, “We are very happy.”
“No pressure. We want free and fair elections. It’s our own commitment.”
Since holding free and fair elections is a government’s commitment, Momen said, the repeated calls from the US helped them make their commitment afresh.
He said the government and the Election Commission alone cannot ensure a free and fair election but it requires sincerity and commitment from all political parties.
Momen said the government encouraged the US side to send election observers as many as they want. “We are open to observers.”
“Of course, we’re looking – the world is looking – to Bangladesh for its next election, to make sure that they set a strong example of free and fair election for the region and for the world,” Secretary Blinken said during his meeting with Momen on April 10..
“I agree with Secretary Blinken. I am so happy that he also wants a model election which can be por-trayed in the rest of the world. I want this, too and we seek support from all,” Momen said earlier.