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Cablegate: Preparing for Transition in Bangladesh

VZCZCXRO8924
PP RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1224 3300922
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250922Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7819
INFO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8735
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2475
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9977
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0955
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1582

UNCLAS DHAKA 001224

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/PB, SCA/FO, S/CRS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL ECON BG
SUBJECT: PREPARING FOR TRANSITION IN BANGLADESH

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Bangladesh's transition back to democracy following
Parliamentary elections scheduled for December 29, will present
significant challenges and opportunities for advancing U.S.
interests here. The U.S. Government (USG) needs to begin planning
for this transition now. In recent months, Mission Dhaka has put
considerable effort into assuring the return of Bangladesh to a
democracy via free, fair, and credible elections. Even as we
concentrate on the "democratization" aspect of our "3 D's," we
remain focused on the other D's - the need for development and the
denial of space to terrorists. With this election, Bangladesh will
conclude a two year State of Emergency, which was declared when the
last elections, scheduled for January 2007, collapsed and Bangladesh
was on the brink of political chaos. As we begin preparing our road
map for addressing these issues in the months ahead, Embassy Dhaka
considers preparing and coordinating the USG approach to this
transition critical. We believe planning assistance from the Office
of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS)
would be invaluable and would help provide a concrete way forward.


------------
PARTICIPANTS
------------

2. (SBU) Embassy Dhaka recently held an interagency meeting to
begin planning for the upcoming Bangladeshi Parliamentary elections
slated for December 29. Members of the country team present at the
meeting included: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Consular Section (CONS), Defense Attach Office (DAO), Department of
Justice (DOJ), Management Section (MGMT), Public Affairs Office
(PAO), Pacific Command Augmentation Team (PAT), Political/Economic
Section (POL/ECON), Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), Regional
Affairs Office (RAO), Regional Security Office (RSO), and USAID.


---------------
COMMON CONCERNS
---------------

3. (SBU) The group identified many common concerns. While
agency-specific concerns were discussed, the group agreed that
security of U.S. Embassy personnel and American Citizens living in
Bangladesh was a primary concern in the run up to elections. In
recent weeks, the Caretaker Government has shifted focus to the
upcoming transition. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Government of
Bangladesh (GOB) is no longer able to implement major policy
decisions. During the post-election period, Embassy Dhaka will be
focused on how to engage with a new GOB in order to advance the USG
agenda here. This agenda focuses on three D's: democratization,
development, and denial of space to terrorists. A coordinated plan
will enable Embassy Dhaka to work immediately with a new government
to tackle policy issues, such as the recognition of Kosovo or the
Police Reform Ordinance of 2007, as well as management issues, like
identifying secure space for the Chief of Mission Residence.

----------------------------------
COMMENT: NEED FOR S/CRS ASSISTANCE
----------------------------------
7. (SBU) Post sees the value of a coordinated plan to assist
Embassy Dhaka as we move to elections and a new, democratically
elected government. As elections draw closer, Post is increasingly
focused on concluding remaining business with the Caretaker
Government and ensuring free, fair, and credible elections. At the
same time, Embassy Dhaka is identifying USG priorities during the
first 60 to 90 days of a new government. With most agencies and
sections focused on their own specific objectives, Post would
appreciate the assistance of S/CRS in creating a whole-of-government
plan. Such a plan would enable Embassy Dhaka to focus its limited
resources on achieving overall USG objectives in Bangladesh.

Moriarty

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