Foreign ministry protests statement of 6 civil society bodies
The foreign ministry today protested the recent statement issued by six international civil society organisations (CSOs) that raised questions about the fairness of the January 7 national polls and called for a re-election.
On January 12, the CSOs in their joint statement said the election was neither genuine nor competitive and raised questions about its adherence to democratic principles and international election standards.
The six CSOs are Asian Network for Free Elections, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights, Asian Democracy Network, Capital Punishment Justice Project (Australia), and Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network.
In its own statement released yesterday, the foreign ministry termed the allegations "false and baseless" and said the 12th parliamentary election was held in a "free, fair, transparent, and festive atmosphere with the participation of the people."
"A total of 1,534 candidates from 28 registered political parties and 436 independent candidates contested the elections. The voter turnout was as high as 70 percent in many rural constituencies, and the national average turnout was 41.8 percent," the statement read.
Additionally, it stated that despite challenges brought on by the BNP's use of violence in the run-up to the election, the voting day passed with an exceptionally high degree of calm, with only a few isolated incidents at a small number of polling places.
"Many international election observers and journalists, who actively reported on the elections from the field, attested to this truth."
The foreign ministry also claimed the members of the law enforcement agency responded to the incidents of violence that occurred in the run-up to the elections with restraint, proportionality and adherence to legal boundaries.
"Those who committed arson and disrupted public life to subvert the election were arrested under specific allegations. These measures were deemed necessary to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all citizens.
"The joint statement of the international civil society groups is, therefore, misleading, one-sided and unacceptable. It has been issued with an ulterior motive to encourage anti-democratic and anti-election forces that made their ill attempts to thwart the elections," the ministry statement concluded.