Staff Correspondent

The next general election will be free, fair and credible, said Rupert Mathews, chief of European Parliament delegation that came to observe election atmosphere in Bangladesh.

He made the remark at a press conference, which was coordinated by Arifa Rahman Ruma, at Hotel Westin in the capital on Sunday.

While replying to questions of reporters, Mathews, also a conservative member of the EU parliament from the United Kingdom, said, “We found [that] a favourable atmosphere for holding the [11th parliamentary] election is currently prevailing in Bangladesh. We believe the election will be free as we have visited a lot of places and talked to a wide range of people from different classes and professions, including government officials, politicians and mass people.”

That’s why European Parliament does not think there is any need to send election observers to monitor the polls, he stressed.

The EU usually sends observers to a country if there are any possibilities of violence, vote rigging and election engineering. But Bangladesh has made a rare example, and the country is fully capable of and committed to holding fair elections, he explained.

“After observing several meetings among the political parties in the last few weeks, we have been convinced that the election will be conducted in a free and fair manner. Now we are looking forward to the result of the election,” he said.

Mathews hoped that a large number of people will turn out in the coming election.

“We have come here … to learn more about Bangladesh, its political situations and other aspects including trade, investment, social development, women empowerment and minorities. The development Bangladesh has made in all these sectors has really impressed us,” Mathews said.

He also said, “We had been wrongly informed about the democracy of Bangladesh. That wrong idea has now dispelled. In fact, Bangladesh is a good example of democracy.”

Joao Pedro Guimaraes Goncalves, member of the Portuguese Parliament, said both Portugal and Bangladesh are democratic dispensations but they had been earlier presented with some wrong ideas about Bangladesh.

“This visit has removed those misconceptions as we have found the country is really amazing,” he added.

He asked the Bangladeshis … to uphold the country’s democracy and show the real Bangladesh before the world.

Bangladesh is such a wonderful country that really respects human rights, and its workers and industries are up to the mark of the global standard, Goncalves emphasised.

The visiting EU delegation members said to the reporters that Bangladeshis should take pride in the tremendous progress the country has achieved in all areas.

Bangladesh is really a role model for its neighboring countries in the field of socioeconomic development, they continued.

Really, Bangladesh has taught the entire world how a densely populated country can strongly advance within a short period of time through upholding its democratic values, they especially noted.

They also said the different development projects and high-rise buildings in Bangladesh have stunned them and changed their perceptions developed about the country in them.

The visiting EU team comprises Rupert Mathews, conservative member of the EU parliament from the UK, Fluvio Martusciello, member of the EU parliament from Italy, Alberto Cirio, member of the EU parliament from Italy, Joao Pedro Guimaraes Gonçalves Pereira, Member of the Portuguese Parliament, Sandra Cristina De Sequeiros Pereira, Member of the Portuguese P a r l i a m e n t , Susan Guarda of P o r t u guess,  Laura da Silva of France, and Madi Sharma, member of the European Economic and Social Committee UK.