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Bangladesh Foreign Ministry Responds to US Threat of Visa Curbs

© AFP 2023 ED JONESBangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - Sputnik India, 1920, 25.05.2023
Bangladesh's election watchdog has long faced accusations of voter fraud, including in elections held in 2014 and 2018.
Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry on Thursday responded to the United States' threat of visa curbs on people who are suspected of having undermined free and fair elections in the country, stating that the South Asian nation would take steps to ensure that the polls are held without any kind of interference or malpractice.

"The government apparatus will take necessary measures to prevent and address any unlawful practices or interference … to compromise the smooth and participatory conduct of the elections", the ministry said in a statement. "The electoral process will remain under strict vigilance, including by international observers as accredited by the Election Commission".

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greets the gathering during an interaction with journalists after official election results gave her a third straight term, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 31, 2018. - Sputnik India, 1920, 24.05.2023
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The democratic Islamic country's response to the warning over elections came months ahead of national polls that are due in January 2024.

Is Washington Meddling in Bangladesh's Internal Affairs?

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new visa policy for Bangladesh, empowering the administration to levy sanctions on Bangladeshi nationals allegedly involved in unlawful practices during elections there.
America's top diplomat justified the changes to the US policy as efforts to "support Bangladesh's goal of holding free, fair and peaceful national elections".

The previous two polls held in 2014 and 2018 were allegedly marred by large-scale vote rigging. There were also accusations of political vendetta from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The US and its allies allege that instances of human rights violations have increased under the 75-year-old leader's tenure in Bangladesh. In particular, Washington has accused Hasina of obliterating press freedom and cracking down on the government's critics during the previous election campaigns, namely the country's principal opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Hasina has governed Bangladesh since 2009.