The BNP on Thursday told British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Sarah Cooke that a fair election is not possible without a neutral government as the Awami League administration has been moving ahead with its scheme of vote rigging.

“Though the general election is six months away, the scheme of stealing votes is actively underway… that is why it is not possible to have a fair election in Bangladesh without an impartial government,” said BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury. 

Briefing reporters on the meeting, he said the only way to stop vote rigging is to hold the election under a non-partisan government. “This discussion is now going on everywhere and it came up in our discussion today.”

Explaining the political developments over the last week, the BNP leader said one of their party leaders was killed, many others were injured, arrested and implicated in false cases, while deputy commissioners, upazila nirbahi officers and police officers were transferred and given new postings. “These all are parts of the scheme to steal votes in the election.”

He said all the democratic countries and organizations across the world have concerns that human rights, the rule of law and the security of public life are at stake amid widespread corruption as an “unelected” government is in power.

“The only way to change this situation is to hold a fair, acceptable and participatory election, and that is the same expectation of democratic countries like the people of Bangladesh,” the BNP leader said.

He said the global community has also concerns whether a credible, participatory and impartial election will be held in Bangladesh paving the way for the people to choose their government. “The British government has always had this concern as we follow Westminster. This issue was also discussed in the meeting."

Asked whether the UK supports the BNP's demand for a fair and participatory election under a non-partisan government, he said not only Britain but also many other countries are extending their support for it.

“Why are the [delegations of] democratic countries coming to Bangladesh? What messages are they sending? Why are they talking about a representative and participatory and acceptable election? Are they going to any other country in South Asia?” the BNP leader asked.

Had there been a fair election in Bangladesh, he said, these questions would not have been raised and the British High Commissioner would not have come to the BNP chairperson's office to discuss these issues.

Khosru said the people of Bangladesh want to get back democracy, their voting rights, the rule of law, democratic politics and constitutional rights, and they also want a level-playing field and security of life. “These are not the demands of the BNP – these are the demands of millions of people of this country."

After a meeting with Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, the British high commissioner went to the BNP chairperson's Gulshan office at around 3pm and had around meeting with a BNP delegation, led by its secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and Organizing Secretary Shama Obaid also attended the meeting.