New Delhi [India] June 1 (ANI): Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Momen on Wednesday said that the latest US visa policy issued by US State Department to promote free and fair elections in Bangladesh will not impact the ruling party Awami League.
"The latest US visa policy will not have any impact on Awami League and its workers, Awami League is a great believer in people and democracy," he said.
The US has decided to deny visas to individuals, from law enforcers to political leaders, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
Without naming the country's main opposition party he said, "Those who resort to violence, arson and destruction, their leadership needs to be vigilant....you know who they are..," said Bangladesh FM.
The wide range of people under the purview of the new policy includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.
"Under this policy, we can impose visa restrictions on individuals and their immediate family members if they are responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced.
The announcement comes ahead of the Bangladesh national election 2023 which is likely to happen in December.
Last week the US State Department issued a new visa policy for Bangladesh to ensure free and fair upcoming general elections for 2023. It warned the people of Bangladesh that, "a new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) ("3C ") of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh's goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.
"This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services. The United States notified the Bangladeshi government of this decision on May 3, 2023," the state department announcement read.
"Who takes (US) visa? Some rich people, and government officials. Those who are my political agents and who will work during polls, they do not seek visa...," FM Momen said.
Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladesh government ensured the US State Department of free and fair elections in 2023.
"The Government of Bangladesh has taken note of the announcement made by the US Secretary of State on a visa restriction policy pursuant to the so-called 3C provision under the US Immigration and Act. Bangladesh would like to view this announcement in the broader context of its government's unequivocal commitment to holding free and fair elections at all levels for upholding the country's democratic process. Under Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, Bangladesh remains a democratic and politically stable nation with experience in holding a series of elections at national and local levels," read the Bangladesh Ministry of foreign affairs statement.
It said that the people of Bangladesh are very much conscious of their democratic and voting rights.
"No precedent exists for any government to continue in office having usurped people's mandate through vote rigging. The people's right to a franchise is considered a State sanctity by the Awami League government that has a political legacy of unrelenting struggles and sacrifices for securing that right. The government attaches importance to freedom of assembly and association for all peaceful and legitimate democratic processes," the statement read.
The electoral reform process in Bangladesh continues in a consultative manner involving all concerned stakeholders. As part of the process, photo-based voter ID cards were issued in response to the 10.23 million fraudulent voters enlisted by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government.
The use of transparent ballot boxes has also been made the norm to establish confidence among the electorate as well as the polling officials and agents," the statement read further. (ANI)