UK won't support military rule: envoy
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Outgoing British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury Monday said his country would not support military rule in Bangladesh, reports agency.

British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury Monday speaks at a discussion organised by Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh at the National Press Club. "Our view is that we will never support military intervention in this country. We do not take military rule for a good thing. We will not support martial law," the envoy said at a view exchange meeting at the Jatiya Press Club in the city.

He asserted that the parliamentary polls would take place by the December deadline with the participation of all political parties. "It will be a shame if the two parties do not take part in the election.

Because democracy is about participation," said the British envoy of Bangladesh origin. Choudhury said the government should make ways for the political parties to take part in the polls. Similarly, the political parties needed to work with goodwill to see fully-participated elections.

Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) organised the talk. Choudhury suggested that the state of emergency should be lifted to the "maximum possible extent" in preparation for the upcoming general elections.

He termed Bangladesh's present administration the "stopper and blocker" of development of the country and suggested making it a service delivery system instead of a system of signing files only.

"I am optimistic about holding elections by December, because Bangladesh has made a commitment to the United Nations and the international community to hold the election," he said. "Everywhere the government assured that the elections will be held by December.

There is no doubt about the elections. "Again, the preparation (for polls) like voters roll and others are progressing. The process is in the right direction," Choudhury said. Asked if foreign diplomats had any role in declaration of the state of emergency on January 11 last year, Choudhury told "The simple answer is no.

We didn't have any role. It's your affair." He said there would been a "civil war" in Bangladesh had the scheduled one-sided elections taken place on Jan 22, 2007. "We didn't want a failed democracy in Bangladesh. We want functioning and sustainable democracy," he said. On Bangladesh's administration, Choudhury said the civil servants consider themselves the "master of the people instead of servants".

"The country will never prosper unless the civil service is turned into a service delivery system in lieu of administrative service," the UK envoy said. "Your bureaucracy is 200 years told. This is an outdated policy of control. "You get rid of thousands of regulations. Delete those. We threw it 200 years ago," he said.

"People are focused on politics." Choudhury, who came to Dhaka as the British high commissioner in May 2004, is taking a senior position at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Moderated by DCAB president Masud Karim, the meeting was also addressed by its general secretary Raheed Ejaz.

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