Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (May 24) said the next general election in Bangladesh will be held in a free and fair manner upholding democracy and voting rights of the people. "So, under our government, definitely election will be free and fair," she told a session titled "In conversation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina" at the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) at the Raffles Hotel in Doha. Haslinda Amin, host and Editor at-large of QEF anchored the session in a jam-packed audience hall room at the venue, local media reported.
Sheikh Hasina said, "So, I'm here to ensure our people's voting right?" "People should decide who will run the country. It is people's power. So, I want to ensure people's power," she said. She continued: "I'm here for not grabbing power, rather I want to empower the people to have their right so they can choose their government."
Mentioning about some parties' unwillingness to participate in polls, the premier said: "How they can participate because during their time, the country suffered a lot... "Our people suffered and at that time (during the regime of BNP) the terror activities increased, everywhere there was corruption, nepotism, exploitation. They never bother for people."
"It was very difficult for our people to get one meal in a day. That was their situation," she added.
Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Bangladesh Awami League, said that when her party came back to power, they ensured everything for people. "So, now election, it is people's right..."
"Now, people understand. If they vote for us, I will be here...," she said.
The premier said "Just think about the US president election, Mr. Trump still didn't accept the result. What they can say now?"
She said that they've already asked everybody, whoever wants to send (observers) – "If they want to send observer, they can do it."
"So, I can tell you that I am here to ensure my people's democratic rights, voting rights. And it is our struggle," she added.
Without mentioning the name of BNP, the Prime Minister told Haslinda Amin, in replying to her query, that the party was constituted by a military ruler.
"That party or the war criminal party or the killers of our parents may not feel comfortable... but, other people, many other parties are there and they will participate in the election?"
"So I don't understand why there is this question time and again," she added.
In 1975, when her father was assassinated, the military dictator took all power, she said, adding that they jeopardized all electronic process.
Sheikh Hasina said in 1981 her party – Bangladesh Awami League – elected her as the president of the party in her absence and "since then we started struggling for democracy, for people's voting right, that means where they should have right to exercise their adult franchise."
Replying to another query regarding IMF loan, the PM said that Bangladesh's economy is growing smoothly. "It's not that our economy is suffering... it is only because we want that just to give a cushion to our economy," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said IMF only gives loan to the country which can repay their bill. "They (IMF) first think that whom they're giving loan, whether they can pay it back or not...," she said, adding that Bangladesh is in a position that it has the ability to repay the loan.
Regarding the price hike of energy and power, the premier said that the price hike is affecting every country, not only Bangladesh. "We are looking for alternatives like renewable energy, solar panel and others to continue our progress."
Haslinda Amin said countries like India have been seeking oil from Russia at a much cheaper price. She questioned if Russia is a possible supplier for them. Replying to her, Sheikh Hasina said, "From Russia, we never bought oil... wherever it is available and definitely, we will avail that, why not?"
In this regard, she said, "Our foreign policy is very clear. I just want to tell the audience that Bangladesh follows – friendship to all, malice to none."
"Another thing I should mention that country to country may have conflict, but we never poke our nose to that. We'll never play a partisan role," she said.
"We need to develop our country. We need to fulfill our people's demand. We need to develop the country so that our people get a better life, a developed life," she added.