Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  
Front Page

Govt denounces Tuesday Group's conference bid

Denouncing the Tuesday Group's move to hold an international conference on electoral process in Bangladesh as 'unwarranted', the government yesterday said it will oppose any such move that is tantamount to interference in internal affairs.

"Any sovereign country, if it feels that some move by foreign governments is tantamount to interference in internal affairs, will oppose that. It is a normal practice," Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin told the diplomatic corps at a press briefing at the foreign ministry.

The brief but strongly worded reaction to the move came for the second time as the Tuesday Group, an informal club of several foreign diplomats and representatives of development partners of Bangladesh, expressed disappointments over the government decision not to allow its "International Electoral Best Practices Conference" scheduled for January 22-23 next year.

The chair of the group in a press statement on Wednesday expressed its disappointment and postponed the planned high-level electoral conference 'until a more opportune time'.

Asked about the latest government position after the group's reaction made public, the foreign secretary said the government stance on the so-called conference on best electoral practices is well-known and has been clearly stated several times.

"Bangladesh and its people are deeply committed to democracy. Governments are elected through free and fair elections, the mechanisms of which are codified in the constitution of the country."

He further said the past few elections were held in a free, fair and democratic manner, which has been recognised by the international community.

"Elections in our country are a matter for the people to decide. The proposal to hold the proposed international conference on electoral reforms was, in the government's opinion, unwarranted," Hemayet said.

Earlier, on September 25, Foreign Affairs Advisor Reaz Rahman turned down the Tuesday Group's move terming it interference in domestic politics and counterproductive.

The group comprises ambassadors and high commissioners to Bangladesh from the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden and Switzerland as well as the Ambassador of the European Commission and the resident coordinator of the United Nations.