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Home » Politics: Bangladesh » >hold dialogue with parties, allow freedom of press, assembly: US

>hold dialogue with parties, allow freedom of press, assembly: US

>THE United States has urged the government to lift restrictions on freedoms of assembly and the press and hold dialogues with political parties to fulfil its pledge to hold free, fair and transparent elections by the end of this year.
“We urge the government to move forward on its dialogue with political parties and to remove restrictions on freedoms of assembly and the press,” said US State Department’s deputy spokesman Tom Casey in a press statement released in Washington Wednesday.
The government partially lifted the ban on indoor politics in Dhaka last September, but the ban remains in place for the rest of the country.
“Political parties must be able to participate fully in a democratic process,” Casey said, adding that the US urges the Bangladesh government to uphold its commitment to hold free, fair and transparent elections by December 2008.
He said updating the voter list and combating corruption is “encouraging”.
Casey cited the joint statement by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this week in London.
Fakhruddin affirmed the government’s wish to hold dialogue with political parties soon and remove restrictions to allow their full participation in the planned parliamentary elections.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald Camp during their recent visit to Bangladesh also called for lifting the restrictions on politics, saying it is preventing the parties from preparing for the polls.
The US statement followed the release of its annual report “Human Rights Practices 2007” where it stated that human rights record worsened in Bangladesh under the protracted state of emergency.
The report said both former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were denied fair public trial and the government used Emergency Power Rules to curtail freedoms of speech and the press.

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Spectator

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