Iftekhar meets Euro official in NY Sep22 over polls mission
Monday, 01 September 2008

Bdnews24.com

Foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury on Sunday said he would meet the European Commission commissioner for External Relations in New York on Sept 22 over election monitoring mission.

To facilitate the decision-making process, Iftekhar said he would to try to convince the commissioner, Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to make a special decision on sending polls observers to Bangladesh if the general elections were held under the state of emergency.

"I will have a meeting with EC's commissioner for External Relations in New York on September 22 on sending observer mission to Bangladesh," he told bdnews24.com after meeting Dr Stefan Frowein, the European Commission's delegation head in Dhaka.

"This will be an important meeting following which the EC will decide the question of fielding an observer mission for the elections", Forwein told journalists after the meeting at the foreign ministry.

It was the second meeting of the EC ambassador in five days after Frowein and European Union diplomats met Iftekhar on Wednesday.

The EU as a principle does not send observers to elections held under the state of emergency, said Frowein.

"Since Bangladesh had unique circumstances, a decision in this regard will be taken by the end of September", Iftekhar quoted Frowein as saying.

The adviser said the EU was extremely happy with the preparation for holding the next general elections by the December deadline.

He quoted Frowein as also saying that the preparations for elections including the voters list with photographs and identity cards for 80 million people were something that should "go into the Guinness Book of Records".

Frowein told reporters that terminologies like state of emergency was not important.

"What is important is whether the voter can vote freely without fear or intimidation," he said.

The EC on June 15 sent an "exploratory mission" to Bangladesh to assess the political situation as a precondition to sending observers.

The exploratory mission had talks with a cross-section of people including the government, election commissioners, journalists, NGO leaders and civil-society representatives.

The mission submitted its report to the commissioner in July.

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