Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reiterated her commitment to hold the next national election in a free and fair manner, saying that democracy must continue in Bangladesh at any cost.
"Democracy should continue in Bangladesh at any cost. In no way, the undemocratic forces can assume power," she said.
The prime minister said this when a delegation of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) for Bangladesh paid a courtesy call on her at the Bilateral Room of the latter's Place of Residence, the Taj Hotel in London.
Rushanara Ali MP, Chair of APPG for Bangladesh and the Shadow Minister for Investment and Small Business, led the delegation.
Other members comprising the delegation were APPG for Bangladesh members, Vice Chair Virendra Sharma MP, Vice Chair Valerie Vaz MP, Vice Chair Imran Hussain MP, and Foysol Choudhury MSP, Chair, Cross-party Group on Bangladesh at the Scottish Parliament.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen briefed reporters after completing several courtesy calls paid on the Bangladesh premier by various dignitaries.
Sheikh Hasina told the APPGs delegation that the Bangladesh government is committed to holding a free and fair election, adding that all reforms required to this end have already been made.
The prime minister said they have enacted a law to this end and formed the new Election Commission (EC) through a search committee and have given the EC complete administrative and financial independence to hold free and fair elections.
She also said the voter list was prepared with photographs and transparent ballot boxes have been allocated to hold a free and fair election in line with her party Awami League's proposal placed while it was in the opposition.
The APPGs delegation expressed satisfaction with the preparation of the government to hold a free and fair election in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has also urged the APPGs delegation to send an election observer to oversee the next national election, Foreign Minister Momen said.
All members of the APPGs highly praised the remarkable development of Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The prime minister, in response, said the massive development of Bangladesh has been possible due to continued democracy and stability for years.
Sheikh Hasina expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral relations with Britain, saying that Bangladesh has been doing various businesses with them and British investment in Bangladesh has been increasing.
The premier sought more investment from the UK, particularly in renewable energy, saying that 100 special economic zones and 39 high-tech parks are being set up across Bangladesh.
She offered the UK a dedicated economic zone in Bangladesh, similar to those for South Korea, India and Japan.
Regarding the Rohingya issue, the PM sought cooperation from the UK to repatriate them to their homeland, saying, "Rohingyas want to go to their motherland, Myanmar."
Bangladesh also sought attention from the UK to take measures in increasing humanitarian funds for the Rohingyas, which has been showing a decreasing trend recently, Momen said.
The British government has committed to support Bangladesh in the International Court of Justice over the Rohingya issue.
About the Ukraine war, Sheikh Hasina said, Bangladesh never wants any war, rather it wants issues resolved through discussion, referring to the painful experience of the Liberation War in 1971.
"We never want war as the poor, women, and children have to suffer immensely due to war,'' she said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem and PM's Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam, were present at the meetings.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, FCDO Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations and Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Member of the House of Lords from the Conservative Party and Chair of the British Asian Trust also paid courtesy calls separately to the Bangladesh Premier.
Gopichand Hinduja, Chairman Hinduja Group, Prakash P Hinduja, Chairman, Hinduja Group (Europe), Ashok Hinduja and Dheeraj Hinduja, Chairman, Ashok Leyland also met Sheikh Hasina.
Lord Rami Ranger, patron of Conservative Friends of India and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indo-Pacific and Professor Payam Akhavan separately paid courtesy calls on the Prime Minister.
Cherie Blair, Co-Founder and Chair, OMNIA is likely to pay a courtesy call to the Premier this evening (Oct 2)
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