Hillary, 14 US lawmakers urge end to Bangladesh emergency
May 17, 2007 - 4:28:09 PM
Dhaka, May 17 - Fifteen influential US senators, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Edward Kennedy, have urged Bangladesh's caretaker government to promptly lift the state of emergency and announce a clear roadmap to hold elections in two months.
In a letter to Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed dated May 14, they appreciated the efforts to address corruption, which they said is a major impediment to economic development and poverty alleviation, United News of Bangladesh - reported Thursday.
But they also said: 'We believe it is critically important that any anti-corruption campaign be implemented in conjunction with Bangladeshi law and international standards.
'As friends and supporters of Bangladesh, we believe that the timely improvement of political conditions is in the national interests of both of our countries,' the senators said.
The other signatories to the letter are Joseph Biden, Richard Lugar, Norm Coleman, Christopher Dodd, John Sununu, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Robert Menendez, Johny Isakson, Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Joseph Lieberman.
The senators said, 'We are troubled that the ban on indoor political activities was not lifted, as planned, on May 8. We look forward to the resumption of safe, outdoor political action. Freedom of assembly, like freedom of the press, is essential to any democracy.
'Due process and respect for human rights should be fundamental components of the effort. We are particularly concerned about custodial deaths in the course of the anti-corruption campaign. It is vital that such deaths, all custodial abuses, be prevented.'
Expressing concern over the lack of progress towards free, the senators said: 'We understand that elections, originally scheduled for Jan 22, 2007, have been postponed until the end of 2008 at the latest. However, there is a need for a public roadmap outlining reforms, including correcting the voter's list, to ensure that the election is free, fair, transparent and credible,' they said in the letter, made available to the press Thursday.
Reacting to it, Law and Information Adviser Mainul Hosein said the interim government attached 'importance to valued opinion of Bangladesh's friends, but people of this country would have to solve their own problems', New Age newspaper reported.
'They are our important friends in re-establishment of democracy in the country. But they should understand the problems we are facing in re-establishing democracy. We value their opinions and we need their cooperation. They should come here, talk to us and see the problems we are facing,' Hosein said.
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