US State Department Spokesperson Vedanta Patel. Photo: Collected In the regular press briefing of the United States Department of State, the political situation in Bangladesh, BNP and Mia Arefi have come up again. Vedant Patel, spokesperson of the country’s foreign ministry, expressed the position of the United States on the issues. He said that the United States is not on behalf of any particular party but will work with partners from all levels of society for the welfare of the people of Bangladesh.
Vedant Patel was asked at the regular press briefing of the US State Department on Tuesday, local time, that currently Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists have disrupted the peaceful political environment of the next parliamentary elections in Bangladesh by vandalism and destruction of government property under the pretext of exercising democratic rights. Will you ask the nationalist party to stop violence and participate in the upcoming general elections?
In response, Vedanta Patel said, ‘We are and will continue to closely monitor the situation ahead of the elections to be held in Bangladesh next January and we take any incident of violence very seriously.’ He further said, ‘We are and will continue to urge the government, opposition parties, civil society and other partners to work together in the interests of the Bangladeshi people.’
In another question, referring to American citizen Mia Arefi, the US ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas, is in a really difficult situation. Last week, Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders brought an American citizen to the media at their headquarters to reveal that he (Mia Arefi) is an advisor to President Biden and has 10 to 15 daily contacts with Biden. Then another leader of the party referred to Peter Haas as an avatar and called him the savior of the nationalist party. Do you clearly deny this claim of the nationalist party?
Vedanta Patel replied, ‘I haven’t seen any reports on that and to be honest I really have no idea what you’re talking about.’
At this time, when the questioner spoke again in the midst of Vedanta’s words, Vedanta said, ‘Please do not interrupt me. We have a very talented team at our embassy in Dhaka. Which is led by an experienced ambassador. Who is able to work not only in Bangladesh but also in a larger region.’
In another question, it is said that protests are going on all over Bangladesh. They are demanding the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister. On the contrary, the government is in a sense declaring war on the main opposition BNP and the protesters. More than 8,000 leaders and workers of various levels of the party, including the BNP secretary general, have been arrested. At least 11 people have been killed since the protests began on October 28. Incumbent Prime Minister Hasina has ordered her party members to throw opposition party members into fire or burn their hands. As the United States and the international community commit to creating a peaceful and credible environment for the upcoming elections in Bangladesh—will you stand with the people of Bangladesh to create that environment and help reflect their will to hold elections under a caretaker government?
In response, this spokesperson of the US State Department said, ‘It is important to remember that the US does not support any political party in Bangladesh. We have said this before, we reiterated it in response to your friend’s question. We are not in favor of favoring one political party over another. Right now our focus is to closely monitor the electoral environment in Bangladesh until the January elections.’
At this time, he said, the United States continues its efforts to appropriately engage with the aforementioned parties to urge the government, opposition parties, civil society and other partners to work together for the welfare of the Bangladeshi people.