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Brussels, 11 January 2007

European Commission suspends its Election Observation Mission to Bangladesh

The European Commission has decided to suspend its Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Bangladesh covering the parliamentary elections on 22nd January. The European Commission has called back the long-term observers already on the ground, and will not deploy the other phases of its observation mission, which was due to be led by MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner announced today the suspension of the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Bangladesh. She said: ”I have been very concerned about the development of the situation in Bangladesh over recent weeks. Major efforts have been undertaken by the EU and other international partners calling on all parties and stakeholders to work urgently and co-operatively towards an election process which meets the rights and expectations of the people of Bangladesh and which satisfies international democratic standards. Unfortunately these have not been successful to date. In view of this and also because of the decision of major parties to withdraw from participating in the 22 January elections, and after extensive discussions with EU partners and with the Chief Observer, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, MEP, it has become clear we cannot pursue the EOM as we had hoped. Agreement on the conditions for the elections by the election stakeholders is a prerequisite for credible and meaningful elections and these do not currently exist. I have therefore reluctantly decided to suspend our EU Election Observation Mission to Bangladesh.

It is now essential that all key stakeholders in the electoral process in Bangladesh cooperate, in good faith, to agree acceptable conditions in which credible, democratic elections can take place. To this end, the European Commission stands ready to provide advice and assistance to support this process. Moreover, the Commission remains engaged and committed to supporting the democratic development of Bangladesh, and stands ready to swiftly re-start the EOM should acceptable conditions for the conduct of democratic elections be agreed by election stakeholders."

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