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UK wants ‘proper democracy’ in BD: Duncan

Political stability must for economic growth

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Terming the January 5 election 'unusual but legitimate', visiting British State Minister for International Development Alan Duncan on Wednesday said his country wants to see 'proper democracy' in Bangladesh.
"…we want to see proper democracy - free from violence, focusing on the needs of the people," he said urging all to play their due role to put an end breaking the five-year cycle of electoral violence and instability forgetting the politics of 'recrimination'.
Duncan was speaking at a press conference at the British High Commission's Staff Amenities Centre in the city. British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Gibson was also present.
The British minister said they want to see such political activity in Bangladesh which he thinks is free from violence that focuses on serving the needs of people.
"Political stability is good for economic growth. Political instability is bad for economic growth," he said adding that the focus should be given on the 'needs of people not on political battles.' On the recent multi-phased upazila elections, Duncan said they are concerned by reports of 'interference' and 'irregularities' in the elections. "The UK has consistently called on all parties to refrain from violence and to refrain from intimidation and confrontation." He also said he was particularly disturbed by reports that minorities were attacked before and after the January 5 election and by the reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Responding to a question, he said, "I respect this country's political system and the results of the election. Election of course was unusual as one side did not contest, but it was legitimate." On his discussion with opposition leader Raushan Ershad, Duncan said he told her about the importance of being a responsible opposition as any opposition has an important role to play in commenting on the conduct of the government.
"She assured me…her attitude was practical and constructive. I welcomed that attitude."
Terming Bangladesh a country with huge potentials, Duncan said Bangladesh would be able to see so many good news in the coming years through ensuring political stability instead of sinking into political fighting.
When his confirmation was sought whether he expressed his surprise over Tarique Rahman's claim that Ziaur Rahman was the first president of Bangladesh, Duncan said, "It's not for me anyway to reinterpret Bangladesh history. You're very clever people and you know very well about the history of Bangladesh."
Asked whether the opposition is capable of performing its due role as it came through an 'unusual' election, he said free press is essential part of democracy, and media people are part of that free press.
"And given unusual structure of election, it gives to you even greater responsibility for the reporting and analysis. So, I would say you're part of the solution," he added.
Duncan who arrived here on Monday to check the progress on health and safety standards in the garment industry also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Opposition Leader Raushan Ershad, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Labour Minister Mujibul Haque Chunnu and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam.

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