Dhaka, Bangladesh
US optimistic about dialogue: Bernicat

US optimistic about dialogue: Bernicat

News Report Outgoing US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat has welcomed the proposal of the dialogue between the government and the newly-formed Jatiya Oikya Front, an opposition alliance led by Dr Kamal Hossain. She was speaking at a press conference at the EMK Centre at Dhanmondi on Tuesday. Expressing optimism about the outcome of the political dialogue, Bernicat encouraged dialogue at every level, not only at the high level. "I'm optimistic," she said. The planned talks between the opposition alliance and the ruling Awami League came as a major political breakthrough. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the President of Awami League, on Tuesday invited Jatiya Oikyafront to join dialogue with her party at 7.00 pm on Thursday at Ganobhaban. Sheikh Hasina sent a letter to Oikyafront chief Dr Kamal Hossain and invited its leaders to join the dialogue. Bernicat, however, made it clear that US is not supporting anybody in particular but supporting the democratic process in Bangladesh. The United States is not supporting any particular candidate, party and coalition. We're supporting the democratic process and values, she told reporters at her farewell press conference. She, however, said it is up to the people of Bangladesh to decide the fate of their politics. In democracy, we have every responsibility to demand our government to give us conditions to choose anyone to lead us," she said. Bernicat said the US looks forward to government of Bangladesh fulfilling its commitment and statement it has made to hold free, fair, credible and participatory polls that reflect the will of Bangladeshi people. "To do so, political parties must be free to participate in the political process without intimidation and without fear of arrest," said the US diplomat who enjoyed the longest stay in Bangladesh during her 37-year career. In order to hold credible elections, she said, there must be a credible opposition that is able to act as a political party. The US Ambassador, however, said it is up to the people of Bangladesh to decide. "We the citizen in the democracy has every responsibility to demand our government to give us conditions to choose anyone to lead us." All political parties must be allowed to hold peaceful rallies for ensuring a credible election in the country, Bernicat said. The US envoy laid emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and governance structure for the future success of Bangladesh. Talking about Bangladesh-US relations during her tenure, Bernicat said, "We have enhanced the partnership." Appreciating Bangladesh's progress and attainment in all three criteria to graduate from LDC she said, "It's a great achievements." The US diplomat hailed Bangladesh's generosity for hosting large number of Rohingyas. She encouraged both Bangladesh and Myanmar to continue working together with the international community. Bernicat said the US supports voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin and sought steps so that Rohingyas can live freely and safely without any restriction. Asked about her Bangladesh experience, Bernicat who is likely to leave Dhaka for Washington on Friday, said, "I'm departing with great sense of satisfaction." Expressing concern at recently-passed Digital Security Act (DSA), US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat said healthy democracy is linked with free press and freedom of speech. The United States shares the concerns of the international community that the recently-passed Digital Security Act (DSA) could be used to suppress and criminalize free speech, all to the detriment of Bangladesh's democracy, development and prosperity. She has expressed the hope that the government of Bangladesh will consider changes to the law that would bring it into conformity with the Bangladesh Constitution and with Bangladesh's international commitments on human, civil and political rights. To a question of the export-oriented readymade garment sector, Marcia Bernicat said after Rana plaza incident, the sector has made tremendous progress. The garment and apparel factories in Bangladesh are among the safest in the world, she said. Since 2013, with the help of Accord and Alliance, you have dramatically transformed your garment and apparel factories, making them among the safest in world, she said She opined that Bangladesh should go for high-end products while penetrating into the US market. The outgoing envoy appreciated the role of RMG sector in managing the engine of Bangladesh's economy, helping lifting hundreds of thousands of workers out of poverty, and making Bangladesh a key player in global trade. "Bangladesh has come so far in the 47 years since liberation and has so much potential to achieve even more," she said. Asked whether her "good office" was used for the benefits of some political parties, she said: "One of our goals is to present our government and understand what's going on and figure out what's important to the US. We meet representatives of all parties for that."

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