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EP still concern over Jan 5 poll

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Staff Reporter Tephe European Parliament (EP) is not calling for new elections in Bangladesh, but is encouraging all political parties to find a solution for making the next elections inclusive whenever it takes place, said an influential EP member in Dhaka on Wednesday. “We’re not calling for new elections. We need a political solution from the major political parties about how a future election will be conducted,” said Jean Lambert, Member of the EP and Chairperson of the Delegation for relations with South Asia. Speaking at a pre-departure press conference, she said they have still concern over the January 5 elections saying it was not ‘fully contested’ and referred to the non-deployment of election observers in the elections. European Union (EU) ambassador Pierre Mayaudon was present at the press conference held at the office of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh. Lambert said major political parties in Bangladesh have a responsibility at this moment to have a political solution ensuring that the next election will give a real and full voice of the people of Bangladesh whenever the next election takes place. Asked whether she sees any prospect in terms of narrowing down the gap between major political parties, she said: “Still it seems there is a long way to go. It’s difficult to say when the progress will come. But that doesn’t mean people should give up trying to make that happen.” Responding to a question on human rights situation in Bangladesh, Lambert referred to the resolution that the EP adopted in September this year expressing concerns over disappearances, extrajudicial killings and seeking ‘in-depth’ investigations in such incidents. “We’ve concerns on a number of issues at the moment. In the legislative field, one is about proposed law on non-government organizations,” she said. Lambert said an active civil society is very crucial in any country and Bangladesh has got that. “That’s part of the country’s strength. She also laid emphasis on free media for strong democratic practice apart from ensuring space for civil society and opposite voices. Responding to a question regarding EP’s call to disassociate ties with Jamaat, she said they had a resolution regarding the matter and they stand by the resolution. On the country’s readymade garment sector, Lambert said the sector has an enormous potential. She observed that a lot of change is taking place in the sector but listed some challenges ahead like infrastructure improvement, improving workers safety further apart from building safety. “There have been lot of progress but there are areas where you need further progress.” Lambert laid emphasis on changing the mindset and bringing in changes in the operation apart from ensuring regulation of labor law implementation. She also said all the stakeholders need to work together to help the RMG sector grow further overcoming the challenges. On Blue Economy issue, EU envoy Pierre Mayaudon said they are open to discussion with the government and private sectors on the issue to translate potential into reality. Some of their member states are interested very much regarding the issue, she said. Lambert arrived in Dhaka on December 6 at the invitation of the President of BGMEA to attend the Dhaka Apparel Summit. During her visit, she met Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, and senior political figures as well as prominent civil society personalities engaged in improving work place safety and workers' rights in Bangladesh. Lambert also toured RMG factories in Savar with a team of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. She was scheduled to leave Dhaka last night.