US unsure about Bangladesh polls

Dhaka, Jan 3 (IANS) The US has yet to decide whether it would recognise Bangladesh’s Jan 5 general elections with its state department’s deputy spokesperson saying that the failure of parties to reach a consensus was clearly “not a good sign.

“But I don’t want to prejudge the outcome or what we will say afterwards,” quoted Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the state department, as saying Thursday in Washington.
“As I have been clear, they haven’t taken steps to hold free, fair, and credible elections, so clearly that’s not a good sign,” she said when asked if the US would recognise the elections in which the major opposition is not participating.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s boycott over the poll-time government issue has led to more than half of the seats resulting into uncontested victories for candidates.
The US followed the European Union to halt the polls monitoring mission saying it was “disappointed” as parties failed to reach a consensus to hold a “free, fair and credible” elections.
Harf said the US was encouraging the major parties to reach a consensus and “we will keep monitoring the situation and engaging as necessary”.
The opposition has long been observing political programmes like blockades and shutdowns, unleashing violence in which many innocent people were killed.
Police arrested several senior opposition leaders. In the latest development, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was prevented from leaving her residence during her ‘March for Democracy’ programme to force the government cancel the elections.
Zia has not been seen coming out of her home since last week, while her party leaders have been arrested by the police when they tried to enter her residence, fanning speculation that she was under house arrest.
Earlier, both the British envoy and the US ambassador in Dhaka met her in her residence.
The US deputy spokesperson, however, said she did not have any information of the opposition leader’s “house arrest”.
The BNP Dec 30 called the indefinite blockade of rail, roads and waterways from Jan 1 to prevent holding of what it called the one-sided Jan 5 elections.
Since Nov 26, the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance has enforced nationwide blockade for 22 days in phases, demanding the cancellation of the elections.