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Commonwealth comments on elections; urges dialogue in Bangladesh

6 January 2014
Statement by: Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

“The Commonwealth has been following closely the situation in Bangladesh relating to the parliamentary elections held on 5 January 2014.

“The limited levels of participation and the low voter turnout are disappointing. The acts of violence are deeply troubling and indeed are unacceptable in response to any political situation.

“In the Commonwealth Charter, it is a shared responsibility of governments, political parties and civil society to uphold and promote democratic culture, including the inalienable right of individuals to participate in free and fair elections.

“Therefore, it is critical that Bangladesh moves quickly to find a path forward through dialogue to a more inclusive and peaceful political process in which the will of the people can be fully expressed.

“The Commonwealth remains ready and willing to assist Bangladesh in advancing democratic cultures and processes, freedom of expression, the rule of law and our other shared core values, just as we offer this support to all our member countries.”

Note to editors

Commonwealth observers were not present at the 5 January polls, following an assessment that conditions were not compatible with Commonwealth election observation guidelines, particularly the need for inclusive and representative elections.