Bangladesh Prime Minister criticises U.S. visa restrictions for undermining democratic election process

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

4th June 2023 – (Dhaka) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has criticised the United States for imposing visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals, accusing the move of “undermining the democratic election process.” In response to the restrictions, Hasina stated that Bangladesh would not be dependent on other countries and that there was no point in worrying about who refused to grant visas or imposed sanctions, according to United News of Bangladesh.

The new policy applies to a wide range of people, including current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services, according to an official U.S. release. The policy was implemented to support free, fair, and peaceful national elections in Bangladesh, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement on 24th May.

Hasina has made it clear that her Awami League government will hold the next general election in Bangladesh, which is scheduled for early 2024. The current government faces opposition from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who demanded a non-party caretaker government to oversee the polls, a demand that Hasina rejected.

The U.S. visa restrictions have been criticized by some in Bangladesh, who argue that such measures are an infringement on the country’s sovereignty. However, others have welcomed the move, saying that it will help to prevent human rights violations and corruption, which have been issues in previous Bangladeshi elections.

The U.S. and Bangladesh have had a historically complex relationship, with the U.S. supporting Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, but subsequently criticising the country’s human rights record and democratic practices. The visa restrictions are the latest development in this relationship, with the U.S. seeking to promote democratic principles in Bangladesh, while the Bangladeshi government is focused on maintaining its authority and legitimacy.