The European Union (EU) is planning to send an Exploratory Mission to Dhaka in July to assess the advisability, usefulness, and feasibility of EU election observation for Bangladesh’s 12th National General Elections. These plans were disclosed by EU Spokesperson Peter Steno, in response to a question from South Asia Perspectives.
Peter Steno said, “The EU is following the situation in the country in the lead up to elections very closely, in close contact with all stakeholders. Bangladesh has invited the EU to observe parliamentary elections due end of 2023 or in early 2024. The EU will send an exploratory mission in July to assess the advisability, usefulness, and feasibility of EU election observation for this election. The EU encourages every effort to ensure that the elections are participatory and inclusive. It is for all stakeholders to build confidence in the election process. This should include genuine dialogue between the main parties and ample space for civil society. Safeguarding the key freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, is essential for democratic processes.”
The SAP asked about the EU’s position on the upcoming elections in Bangladesh as the two previous national elections were widely criticized by international observers.
Meanwhile, EU lawmakers have urged the EU Vice president to undertake efforts to ensure free and fair elections under a neutral caretaker government. That letter also suggested the EU consider ‘potential measures such as restriction of entry into the EEA [European Economic Area] zone of those responsible for and complicit in the human rights abuses, or regular reminding of the conditions for the GSP+ incentive to which Bangladesh is a bidder may be evaluated.
The United States has yet to announce plans for sending observers for the General Elections or the dispatch of a pre-election assessment mission.