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2 EU election experts arrive in city today

A two-member election expert mission representing the European Union arrives here today to monitor the situation before and after the national election.

“Yes, they’re arriving. They’ll stay until January 15,” a senior foreign ministry official told UNB yesterday.

The mission comprising David Noel Ward and Eirini-Maria Gounari might stay for a longer period, if necessary.

Another official said the EU team would have wider discussions with political leaders on election issues. They would also visit places outside Dhaka.

The two election experts would meet Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, candidates, voters and journalists, among others.

Such an expert team usually submits a report to the EU headquarters in Brussels on its observation.

Meanwhile, a visiting European parliamentary delegation on Sunday expressed hope that the December 30 parliamentary polls would be held in a free and fair manner.

“I’m confident that the coming election will be free and fair,” said Rupert Matthews, conservative member of the European Parliament, sharing his thoughts after talking to political leaders of Bangladesh.

The European Parliament delegation also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday.

Talking to reporters at a city hotel, Matthews said the European Parliament believed that Bangladesh was well-prepared to handle the election on its own.

He said they also believed that Bangladesh was capable of following its rules to conduct a free and fair election and therefore, the EU didn’t need to send observers.

He said the delegation had talks with a wide range of people in Bangladesh, including government officials, politicians and common people.

A diplomatic source said although the EU would not send any observer team because of a lengthy preparatory process, it would closely monitor the next national election in Bangladesh.

The EU would be keeping an eye on the developments in the coming weeks, the source said.

The EU thinks sending a credible observer mission is a very big operation as it involves a good number of observers and needs a long preparation.