Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bangladesh to meet Libyan delegation, snub US request

SALEEM SAMAD

From the strife-torn North Africa nation, during a hectic whirlwind diplomatic tour, a high profile delegation carrying personal message of defiant Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi will arrive Bangladesh capital soon.

Despite reservation of United States, Bangladesh seems to have decided to ignore an appeal to postpone the appointment with the Libyan official delegation. US State Department have warned Bangladesh officials of the controversial delegation’s visit, because the Libya has been accused of widespread human rights abuse and for conducting military raids against pro-democracy Libyans.

A foreign ministry official said the US has sent a 'demarche' letter to Bangladesh requesting not to accept any Libyan delegation and break diplomatic ties with the North African country. The US does not recognize the current regime of Libya as the legitimate government, an official remarked.

Sources in the government, said the Libyan delegation will be visiting few like-minded countries, including the Bangladesh to clarify the position of the North African nation and seek support from the government.

Soon after pro-democracy civil strife in Libya, its ambassador to Bangladesh AH Elimam quit his official position, apparently as a reaction to the violence against civilians, joining a number of other officials to defect from the Muammer Gaddafi's government.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh ambassador to Libya ABM Nuruzzaman confirmed to online wire service bdnews24.com on Wednesday that, "A Libyan delegation will visit Bangladesh and some other countries to describe their position."

However, the official could not mention the date of the arrival of the delegation. But said it would be very soon.
Sketchy information is available regarding the mission from Libya. It was known that troubled Libya is sending mission to different countries to seek political support against the backdrop of increasing attacks by the US and its allies, the ambassador said.

"We're more interested in the security of Bangladeshis living in Libya," he said hinting that Bangladeshis still in Libya might face problems if the delegation is not allowed to come.

Bangladesh has another stake in Libya. It was Gaddafi who had given refuge to most of the self-confessed assassins of the Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, founder of Bangladesh. Since the founder’s daughter Shiekh Hasina led Awami League alliance swept into power, her government tried them in a competent court. Later the apex court upheld the death penalty. Those in languishing in prison were hanged. Other fugitives were listed as most wanted criminals by Interpol.

The officials will take an opportunity to seek extradition of fugitive assassins, believed to be hiding in Libya.

Sources said the Libyan delegation will not have audience with the prime minister, nor with foreign minister. It is likely that the foreign secretary will meet the delegation.

Soon after the crisis in Libya began in March, Bangladesh foreign minster had visited Egypt, while foreign secretary visited Tunisia. Both officials deliberately avoided contacts with the Libyan government, despite their mission were to expedite evacuation of thousands of migrant workers of Bangladesh with support of International Organization for Migration (IOM). An estimated 20,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers are still in beleaguered Libya. [ENDS]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com