DHAKA, Bangladesh - State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Md Shahriar Alam, has warned foreign ambassadors sternly, threatening them with consequences if they "overstep the limits to meddle in internal affairs." Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Alam expressed concern over a recent trend of foreign diplomats engaging in activities considered crossing the line.
Referring to a previous phase of meddling that occurred approximately six months ago, Alam stated, "If the ambassadors get involved in such activities again, which are considered as crossing the line, we will take note and then act."
This statement comes in the wake of recent meetings between Japanese Ambassador Iwama Kiminori, the Election Commission, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
In November 2022, the former Japanese ambassador, Ito Naoki, commented during an event in Dhaka, suggesting that he had heard allegations of police officials stuffing ballot boxes on election day, a claim he had never encountered in any other country. He also desired an inclusive election in which all parties could participate.
Naoki's remarks sparked a political debate in Bangladesh, prompting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon him and remind him of the Vienna Convention, which prohibits envoys from commenting on any country's domestic affairs.
Ambassador Kiminori, who succeeded Naoki, had previously stated that he would refrain from commenting on Bangladesh's internal affairs. However, he intended to engage with various political parties and stakeholders to understand the country's politics better.
Last week, Kiminori met with the Election Commission, seeking information about the measures to ensure that the upcoming general election would be conducted freely and fairly. EC Secretary Md Jahangir Alam confirmed that Kiminori inquired about the progress of the election roadmap declared by the Commission.
Following his meeting with BNP leaders on Sunday, Kiminori did not address the media directly. However, senior BNP leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury commented that Japan was attempting to comprehend the political landscape of Bangladesh.
As tensions rise between foreign ambassadors and the Bangladeshi government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains firm against interfering in the country's internal matters. Minister Alam's warning serves as a reminder that actions will be taken against those who exceed the boundaries defined by the diplomatic protocol.