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EU team for Independent EC: Free and fair polls a must

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BNP's senior leaders holding meeting with European Parliamentary delegation over the imprisonment of its Chairperson Khaleda Zia, next election issue and the present political situation in Bangladesh at Gulshan Party office on Wednesday.

Staff Reporter :
European Parliamentary delegations on Wednesday said, an independent election commission is very important for a free and fair parliamentary election.
Visiting eight-member EU Parliamentary body headed by Jean Lambert met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda.
The delegation urged Bangladesh authorities to create the necessary conditions for inclusive, free and fair elections.
"We hope all parties will actually be willing to stand for election to make sure that people of Bangladesh can exercise their choice through the ballot-box," Jean Lambert told reporters at a press conference before wrapping up their Bangladesh visit.
She said that they had a meeting at the Election Commission and discussed how the next national election could be inclusive, free and fair.
Lambert said they also discussed issues related to budget, capacity building and next election management.
MEPs met the State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose ahead of the general elections.
The European delegation met the BNP leadership also.
The MEPs recalled that up to EUR 690 million were earmarked in EU support for Bangladesh in the current Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 and reiterated their wish to remain engaged and to further support Bangladesh in areas such as human rights, good governance and the environment.
They also hoped that the impressive economic growth of the past years and the encouraging progress in the fight against poverty, which have made Bangladesh an important trading partner of the European Union, will further help achieve the goals to which it has committed, in a more inclusive manner.
The European Parliamentarians regretted, however, the deterioration of the human rights situation over the past few years, and took note of reports on hindrance to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and violence against women.
They also welcomed progress related to the Sustainability Compact, but recalled that a number of relevant issues in that context remained pending, notably in the area of labour rights.
The MEPs recalled the need to fully align the Labour Act and the EPZ Labour Act with ILO standards, in particular Conventions No. 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
They noted, furthermore, that the likely graduation to middle income country status will require a transitional process to implement and monitor the required ILO Conventions.
The delegation of the European Parliament paid an official visit to Bangladesh from February 12 to 14.
Richard Corbett, James Nicholson, Wajid Khan and Sajjad Kari, in his capacity as rapporteur on South Asia in the European Parliament's International Trade Committee, were among delegation members.
The visit of European Parliamentarians (MEPs) was organized in two parts.
On Monday, MEPs visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and gathered first-hand information on the ongoing exodus and refugee crisis.
This part of the visit was organized together with a Delegation of the European Parliament's Sub-committee on Human Rights, led by its Chairman Pier Antonio Panzeri, who travelled onwards to Myanmar.
During the second part of the visit, MEPs returned to the capital Dhaka for meetings with the Bangladesh authorities, mainly with its counterparts in the Jatiya Sanghad, the Bangladesh Parliament, and with representatives of civil society.
They appreciated the opportunity to inform themselves on developments in Bangladesh at an important juncture in bilaterauhl relations with the European Union, including the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact that aims at improving the working conditions in the ready-made garment industry, launched after the Rana Plaza tragedy.

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