To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the re-categorisation of Bangladesh by the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index as an autocracy rather than a democracy, what steps they will take to encourage neutral observers for the forthcoming general election in that country.
The British Government has been consistently clear that we wish to see a free, fair and pluralistic election in Bangladesh. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, has repeatedly encouraged the Government of Bangladesh and opposition parties to engage in an effective dialogue to this end, and the power to deliver it lies with them. Through our High Commission in Dhaka we have been clear that the Election Commission should be allowed to continue its important work without interference. We have consistently made the case for international oversight of the election and the EU has agreed to send an Election Expert Mission. Through the Department for International Development funding, the UK will also support local observation of the general election. The Foreign Secretary raised his concerns regarding the next election in Bangladesh with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when they met at the UN General Assembly in New York on 24 September. In a call on 1 November with State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam, the Minister for Asia and the Pacific again made the case for a free, fair and participatory election. As did I when I spoke to him on 23 November.