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Thursday, May 24, 2018

US for participatory polls in Bangladesh

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The United States on Thursday underlined the importance of holding "free, fair and participatory election" in Bangladesh that truly reflects the will of Bangladeshi people.

"Bangladesh and the US are indeed friends. This friendship is based on shared values and willing to talk to each other openly and honestly," USAID Administrator Mark Green told a roundtable with a select group of journalists at American Club in the city.

He said experience tells responsive democratic governance is an irreparable ingredient in the long-term sustainability and successful economic development.

Mark Green voiced concerns over the "ongoing arrest" of opposition leaders, extrajudicial harassment and detention of journalists. "That concerns every true friend of Bangladesh, including US," he said.

He also talked about Rahingya issues and said the US will continue to work together with Bangladesh to help Rohingyas living in Bangladesh.

Administrator Green voiced the US government's expectations that Bangladesh fulfills its commitment to hold "free, fair, credible, and participatory elections" that reflect the will of the Bangladeshi people, said the US Embassy in a press release on Thursday containing outcome of his meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque.

He highlighted the importance of preserving the rights of free speech and assembly, as well as a free and independent press, before, during, and after the upcoming national voting later this year.

The Administrator also asked for the government of Bangladesh's continued assistance in prosecuting those responsible for the brutal killing in 2016 of Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID employee.

The USAID Administrator and Foreign Secretary discussed the strong partnership between the United States and Bangladesh, including USAID's long history in the country.
He also expressed his commitment to continuing that cooperation, including USAID's support for civil society, and celebrated Bangladesh's recently meeting all three criteria required for graduation from least developed country (LDC) status in 2024.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugee, and Migration Mark Storella; and Senior Deputy Assistant USAID Administrator for Asia Gloria Steele were present.

Administrator Green thanked the government of Bangladesh for generously hosting and assisting nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar since August 2017.

He underscored the US commitment to humanitarian response to the crisis.

The Administrator mentioned the announcement of $44 million in additional US assistance for the Rohingya and other vulnerable populations in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The United States has contributed nearly $300 million to assist displaced people in and from Myanmar since Fiscal Year 2017.

Green said he will raise the urgent need for the government of Myanmar to take steps to end the crisis.

He reiterated that any repatriation or relocation of the Rohingya must be safe, voluntary, dignified, and based on informed consent.

Earlier on Wednesday, he said the US wants to see other countries join them to step up and do more for the Rohingyas living in Bangladesh saying this is the time of need as monsoon is coming.

"We do believe other countries should step up and do more. This is the time of need for Rohingyas," said USAID Administrator Green at the Foreign Ministry here after his meeting with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque.

Green said he visited Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar to learn and see on his own eyes the situation. "US should be joined by others in helping Rohingyas as monsoon is coming."

He appreciated Bangladesh and its people for showing "remarkable hospitality" for the Rohingyas.

USAID Administrator said he will be visiting Myanmar and discuss the situation with the officials in Myanmar based on what he has seen in Bangladesh.

He said he will report back to the US Secretary of State after wrapping up his visit which will help them take important decisions in the future.

Meanwhile, the United States has called on the government of Myanmar to create conditions that would allow for the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingyas.

The US also urged the government of Myanmar to allow immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to reach people in need in Rakhine State.

Spokesperson at the US Department of State Heather Nauert said this at a regular briefing in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

USAID Administrator Mark Green is now visiting Bangladesh. He visited Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar on Tuesday and announced more than US$ 44 million in new humanitarian assistance to support Rohingyas in Bangladesh and other vulnerable groups affected by the conflict in Myanmar.

This now brings the total US humanitarian assistance for displaced people in and from Myanmar to more than US$ 299 million since the beginning of fiscal year 2017.

The new funding will provide emergency food and nutrition as well as shelter, safe drinking water, life-saving medical care, and other critical aid.

The USAID Administrator met representatives from UNHCR, the World Food Program, and newly arrived Rohingyas who are now among the 700,000 Rohingya as they fled violence and conflict in Myanmar's Rakhine State since August 25, 2017.

Green will visit Myanmar and will meet officials there to discuss urgent steps needed to end the crisis in the Rakhine State and address violence in other parts of the country.

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