Former Jamaican PM Bruce Golding to Lead Commonwealth Team Observing Bangladesh Elections

Bruce Golding 300712
Bruce Golding

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding will lead a Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) of ten members to observe the general elections in Bangladesh on January 7. Golding expressed his honor in leading this diverse team of experts from various backgrounds and countries, emphasizing their commitment to objectivity, transparency, and independence.

The 12th parliamentary election in Bangladesh, involving 300 seats, is set amidst political tensions. The main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Khaleda Zia who is under effective house arrest, has threatened to boycott the polls unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resigns and a non-partisan caretaker government is established. Sheikh Hasina has been leading Bangladesh for 15 years. Other parties, including the largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), have also announced their intention to boycott.

The CET, with representatives from CARICOM, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Maldives, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom, is part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to support democratic elections in its 56 member countries. The team, which includes gender and human rights advocate Terry Dale Ince from Trinidad and Tobago, will assess the election process against Bangladesh’s democratic commitments.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland highlighted the importance of impartial and independent election observation for fair and credible elections. The team will engage with various stakeholders, including political parties, police, civil society, and the media, to gather a comprehensive view of the electoral process. From January 6, they will deploy across the country to observe the election’s different phases, including voting and counting, and provide observations to improve and strengthen democratic processes in Bangladesh.

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