Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (Feb 15) said the next parliamentary election would be held here in a free and fair manner as the Election Commission (EC) of Bangladesh is completely independent. "The next election will be fair and free. I fought for democracy throughout my life," she said.
The premier said this while a United States delegation led by the Counselor to its Secretary of State Derek Chollet paid a courtesy call on her at the latter's official residence Ganabhaban in city. Prime Minister's Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam briefed reporters after the meeting.
Sheikh Hasina said if the people vote for Awami League in the next general election, her party will take the charge of governing the country.
"I never want to come to power through vote-rigging," she said.
The PM said she always struggled for the people's rights to food and vote.
She said the first-ever EC's reconstitution law was passed in parliament and then a neutral election commission was constituted on the basis of the law.
The EC is completely independent and it has administrative and financial independence, she added.
The PM said there is no base of any political party other than Awami League at grassroots level in the country. BNP and Jatiya Party were born in the cantonment, she said.
Focusing on the development of Bangladesh in different socio-economic index, Sheikh Hasina said the transformation of Bangladesh has become visible in the last 14 years during her government.
It has been possible due to the continued democratic practice and stability in the country, she added.
Russia-Ukraine war and Rohingya issues also came up for discussion in the meeting.
The PM said the world should stop this war as it has caused high inflation and commodity prices throughout the globe.
"A war never can bring any benefit for mankind," she quoted.
Mentioning that the USA is the most powerful country, she said the USA can take steps to stop the war. The disputes can be settled through negotiation, she said.
About Rohingya, the premier said the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals have become a big burden for Bangladesh, adding local communities of Cox's Bazar are suffering and they have become minority due to the influx of such huge number of Rohingyas there.
She said the Rohingya people are being involved in different criminal activities like drug and human trafficking, militancy and infightings.
The premier also said the displaced Myanmar nationals have been staying in Cox's Bazar for five years and now it is difficult to keep them there as its natural environment and the livelihood of locals are at stake.
She said her government arranged different facilities, including income generating facilities, to ensure better life of the Rohingya people in Bhashanchar island.
She asked the world community to provide their assistance to Bhashanchar.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and Bhasanchar.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the international community to try their best for quick and amicable repatriation of the Rohingyas.
In this context, Derek Chollet thanked the PM for giving shelter to the Rohingya people on humanitarian ground.
He said they would try their best for the repatriation of the displaced people.
However, the counselor to the Secretary of State of US hoped the repatriation will be possible when a democratic government come again in power in Myanmar.
He said some recent high-level visits of US officials to Bangladesh are a reflection of the importance of the bilateral relations between the two countries. This relation will grow further, Chollet added.
He said it is potential to deepen the bilateral relations.
PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, PM's Principal Secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas were present.
Chollet arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday (Feb 14) for 24-hour stay in Bangladesh.