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Bangladesh: Elections

Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what practical support he is offering to Bangladesh ahead of the elections scheduled for December 2008. (182104)

Credible elections in 2008 that can sustain democracy in the longer term are essential for Bangladesh. The UK is playing its part and offering practical support. Through the Department for International Development (DFID), the UK has contributed £10 million to the voter registration programme in Bangladesh and we have seen encouraging progress to date. A further £1.1 million from DFID is being spent, through the Asia Foundation, on the promotion of accountability, issues-based campaigning and non-violence. This is in addition to our funding of a country-wide scheme to motivate vulnerable groups to register to vote.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress of the interim government of Bangladesh on holding elections in Bangladesh; and if he will make a statement. (182107)

We support a return to healthy and sustainable democracy in Bangladesh, through the creation of the conditions for credible elections. When he met the Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK (Mr. Shafi U Ahmed) on 22 January, my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, welcomed the Caretaker government’s assurance that elections will take place in 2008 and underlined the need to adhere to the election roadmap. We also welcome remarks by the Chief Adviser and the Chief Election Commissioner that those elections could be brought forward should voter list and electoral reforms be completed earlier than planned.