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Moriarty says polls difficult under emergency PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Agency

New US ambassador James F Moriarty said Monday that it would be "extremely difficult" to hold elections with the state of emergency in force.

But Moriarty pinned hopes on an election, which was pledged to take place by year-end in a "free, fair, transparent and participatory manner".

Speaking at his first press conference at the American Club in Gulshan after he arrived in Dhaka on April 10 to take up his new assignment, the ambassador however praised the roles of the interim administration in cutting corruption. "The caretaker government embarked upon an ambitious programme which has lowered corruption and reformed institutions.

Much has been accomplished in a short period of time," said the 13th US ambassador to Bangladesh. Moriarty said the period from Jan 11, 2007 represented an important chapter in its struggle to build a "vibrant democracy" and provided a "renewed opportunity to build a strong, tolerant and prosperous democracy".

"The United States fully supports the caretaker government's efforts to restore democracy by holding free, fair and transparent elections by the end of 2008," Moriarty said.

Asked if a credible national election is possible under the state of emergency, the ambassador said it would be "extremely difficult", but hoped that he would like to see the election be held by the end of the year in a "free, fair, transparent and participatory manner".

Asked for his opinion on demand for the release of detained former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, Moriarty said the allegations against them should be investigated and the process of their trial should be transparent. The leaders should be released if they are not guilty, he said.

Moriarty said the USA would continue to work with the government of Bangladesh and Bangladeshis in a variety of fields to speed up sustainable development. "We are working closely with the government to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and improve control of Bangladesh's borders and ports of entry," the ambassador said.

Moriarty said a lack of good governance and poverty had fuelled extremism in Bangladesh. "Lack of good governance gives space to the terrorists," Moriarty said. The US ambassador to Bangladesh stressed a stronger democracy than the one the country had before—to carve out a better future for the country.

"I believe that promoting democracy, ensuring development and denying space to terrorism are the key challenges Bangladesh faces and are vital to the future of the relationship between our countries," Moriarty said. He presented his credentials to President Iajuddin Ahmed Monday morning.

Moriarty was nominated as the ambassador by US president George W Bush last year and confirmed by the US Senate on Mar 13. Prior to this assignment, Moriarty served as US ambassador to Nepal between 2004 and 2007.

He has also served as special assistant to the US president and senior director at the US National Security Council, advising on and coordinating US policy on East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific region.

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