Further army role will isolate Bangladesh from the region: US envoy

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Dhaka, Apr 21 (UNI) The United States today said further role of the army will isolate Bangladesh from the region and others.

''I like to continue to hear from Army chief of staff General Moeen that the army has no attempt to take power, and he does want to see election occuring by the end of the year. My government thinks that is very important,'' new US Ambassador to Nepal James Moriarty told a press conference here.

He also said holding of credible and transparent parliament elections under the state of emergency would be extremely difficult.

Mr Moriarty made the critical observations within hours of his presentation of credentials to Bangladesh president Professor Dr Iajuddin Ahmed at Bangabhaban.

The US ambassador arrived here on April 10 to take up his new assignment after his assignment in Nepal stressed on 3Ds theory of democracy, development and denial of space to terrorism.

Asked about lifting of the state of emergency imposed in January last year, the US envoy said the government, the parties and the media would have to work it out.

He was asked about political parties allegations of holding elections to set up a parliament of the government's choice excluding the two former Prime Ministers - Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.

In response Mr Moriarty said cases of corruption have been filed against one of the two ex-Prime Ministers and process was on to file cases against another. He claimed if there was substance in the allegation, it must be investigated and tried as early as possible.

However, he said the government must follow the due process and all trials should be free, fair and transparent.

The corruption is a big issue in Bangladesh and the Transparency International has put Bangladesh on the top of its corruption index list, which is very worrying, he said.

Replying to another question the US Ambassador said he believes the caretaker government is making efforts including voter registration to hold the elections by the end of the year.

He hoped the people would hold the government to its commitment.

''Bangladeshi people deserve functional democracy and political parties need to work together to return to democracy,'' he said.

Mr Moriarty said he admired achievements of the Bangladeshi people, who fought for decades to win the right to govern themselves and control their own destiny.

In the 37 years since independence, he said Bangladeshis have struggled to build a vibrant democracy, just as the United States has worked to perfect its democracy over the 231 years.

''For Bangladesh, the current period that began on January 11, 2007 represents yet another important chapter in this struggle, and provides a renewed opportunity to build a strong, tolerant and prosperous democracy,'' he said.

Mr Moriarty said as a friend of Bangladesh, the United States fully supports the caretaker government's efforts to restore democracy by holding free, fair and transparent elections by the end of 2008.

He appreciated the caretaker government's anti-corruption drive that lowered corruption as well as programme for reforming institutions.

''Much has been accomplished in a short period of time, but with less than eight months remaining in this government's tenure, there is much work that remains to be done,'' he said.

The Ambassador said to fulfill its mandate, the caretaker government ''needs support of the public and private sectors, the international community and most importantly, Bangladeshi people.'' On the issue of terrorism, the US envoy said having been victimised by terrorism in the recent past, the Bangladeshi people understand the evils that extremism fosters.

''We are working closely with the government to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and improve control of Bangladesh's borders and ports of entry,'' he concluded.

UNI XC RJ MIR KP1933

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