Shaikh Hasina during her interaction with Gulf News in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Bangladesh Prime Minster Shaikh Hasina alleged that a Bangladeshi expatriate in Dubai had paid money to an opposition party to be a candidate in Bangladesh parliament elections in last December.

“They [opposition party] nominated someone who lives in Dubai. He went to our embassy [in Abu Dhabi] to submit his nomination papers [but] they said we [embassy] cannot accept nomination and you should submit it to the returning officer [in Bangladesh],” she said in an interview with Gulf News on Tuesday.

She said the embassy informed the matter to the Election Commission of Bangladesh.

“That gentleman [Dubai expat] became very upset at one stage and said I paid so much money to so and so in London…they told me I can submit my nomination papers here [embassy in UAE],” Shaikh Hasina said.

Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

She described this as an example for the opposition’s inefficiency. “This is the way they conducted the election [strategy/ campaign,]” the fourth-term Prime Minister said.

She was replying to a question about alleged irregularities in elections that gave her party a huge victory of 288 out of 300 seats in Parliament.

The premier said the opposition parties were not at all serious about the elections. “They nominated around 900 people – about 2- 3 people in one seat. If you nominate two-three people for a seat, how will you win?”

Hasina alleged that when her opposition party The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and allies had won the 2001-elections, they antagonised all sections of the society, which led to declaration of emergency in the country.

Rohingya crisis

About Rohingya crisis, the Prime Minister called for international efforts for the safe return of refugees to Myanmar.

Although Bangladesh continues to share ‘wonderful relationships’ with its neighbouring countries, Hasina mentioned about tensions with Myanmar, owing to an estimated 700,000 Rohingyas who have fled the Rakhine State for Bangladesh since August 2017 to avoid ethnic and religious persecution.

Shaikh Hasina on the Rohingya Crisis Ahmed Kutty/ Gulf News

“Bangladesh has opened its border for the Rohingyas out of humanitarian consideration. However, our position from the very beginning remained the same, which is, Rohingyas must be able to return to their homes in Myanmar,” she said.

Although Bangladesh has signed agreements with Myanmar for the return of refugees, there was no concrete action on the part of Myanmar “towards ‘creating [a] conducive environment in the Rakhine State, or addressing the root causes of the Rohingya problem.”

Therefore, she said, the implementation of the bilateral agreements would be impossible. “Clearly, the Rohingyas would only return is there is assurance of safety, security and dignity for them in Myanmar,” Hasina said.

She added that this requires sustained international pressure, especially in light of recent conflicts in Myanmar that have deepened apprehensions of a further exodus. Among the measures she called for was holding Myanmar authorities responsible for their actions, and creating a civilian safe zone inside Myanmar that will be monitored by humanitarian actors.