Utmost sincerity from all needed for a fair, violence-free election, he says

The government has made a commitment that it would hold a free and fair election as the Election Commission was given absolute authority in this regard, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said in New York on Monday.

"It requires utmost sincerity from all, irrespective of their political background and views, for the arrangement of a free, fair and violence-free election. If so, we Inshallah will be able to hold a free and fair election. We want to set an example in the world that we can do it," he said.

Momen made the remarks while replying to a question at a press briefing over Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's engagements in New York.

He said the Election Commission is constituted under a law, and the Prime Minister doesn't appoint election commissioners.

"The election commissioners can't be terminated even if the President or the Prime Minister wants. The EC can suspend, terminate or punish any government employee in case of irregularities," he added.

Besides, the EC can cancel voting at a polling station in case of vote-rigging or irregularities, he went on.

"The Election Commission was given absolute authority (regarding election)," he reiterated.

In reply to another question, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh has a warm relationship with the US.

"We have a very warm relationship with the US. US President Joe Biden wants to strengthen and embolden this relationship further," he said.

He said the US president sent more than one delegation (to Bangladesh) to deepen this relationship, and "they gave us some advice as our friend."

Noting that a friend can give advice to another, he said, "We have accepted many of their advice as well. We said that if the advice is objective, we'll definitely accept it."

Citing an example, Momen said the US expressed concern over our Digital Security Act, saying that it was being misused to some extent. "So, we worked on it... We're working together."

He said that the US announced the new visa policy against those would undermine the election.

"This is good for us. Because, we want all to join the election, the polls to be free and fair, and none to create disruption or commit violence. The US is working with us. We're working very closely on these issues," the Foreign Minister said.

Talking about the PM's engagement in New York, Momen said the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Monday, called on her.

"During the meeting, the WHO director general highly lauded the government for taking steps to develop the overall health system and ensure health services for all in Bangladesh," he said.

Momen said community health clinics are an innovation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and the clinics provide 30 types of medicines free of cost. This initiative has reduced child and maternal mortality sharply in Bangladesh, and the average life expectancy has gone up significantly, he added.

"Today we have told the WHO director general that we would like to share our experiences and expertise with other countries whose health sector faces similar problems," he said.

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