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IP/08/2062

Brussels, 31 December 2008

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on the parliamentary elections in Bangladesh

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, congratulated the people of Bangladesh for its peaceful participation in the parliamentary elections and called for a new approach from Bangladeshi political parties to the challenges of governance in the country: “I learned with satisfaction that the elections for the ninth Jatiya Sangshad of Bangladesh were conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner and that Bangladeshi people went to the polls in significant numbers. With these elections, the Bangladeshi people have drawn to a close the period of interim government and opened the way to a legitimately elected government. With victory comes the responsibility of forming the next government. However, representatives of all parties having gained seats in parliament must share the task of working together to address the challenges that Bangladesh faces, of ensuring that the new parliament functions in a democratic, fair and effective manner that allows enough political space for the opposition to exercise its rights, and of sustaining the key reforms and institutional gains started by the Caretaker Government. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of both the Bangladeshi authorities in organising and conducting these elections and the staff of the EU Election Observation Mission in ensuring a thorough scrutiny of the polls.”

Background:

The elections for the ninth Parliament (Jatiya Sangshad) in Bangladesh took place on 29 December 2008. Election day was generally calm, orderly and well-organised. The European Commission notes with satisfaction that the elections registered a high turnout of voters.

In November, the EU re-deployed the Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Bangladesh, which was suspended on 11 January 2007. The EOM is led by a Member of the European Parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. The preliminary statement, presented by the Chief Observer Mr. Lambsdorff together with the Head of the European Parliament delegation, Mr. Charles Tannock, on 31 December 2008, concluded that the peaceful parliamentary elections mark an important step in the restoration of democratic governance to Bangladesh. The EU EOM deployed 150 observers from 25 EU Member States and Norway and Switzerland throughout Bangladesh to observe and assess the electoral process, in accordance with international standards for elections as well as the laws of Bangladesh. The EOM will stay on the ground until mid January to observe the post-election developments. A final report covering the elections and containing recommendations on the electoral process will be published by the EU EOM in the next few months.


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