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7 days ago

EU ambassador abandons car, takes autorickshaw amid Dhaka blockade

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European Union Ambassador Charles Whiteley and Deputy Head of Mission Bernd Spanier have encountered disruptions on the streets of Dhaka as students blocked roads to demand quota reforms in government jobs.

After departing for Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury's office, they could not reach by car and had to walk a long distance, eventually taking an auto-rickshaw, reports bdnews24.com.

Considering the danger on the road below, EU officials opted for the elevated expressway. However, on Wednesday, traffic on the expressway was halted due to the blockade.

They walked after leaving their car, then reached the parliament in a CNG-run auto-rickshaw, and finished a pre-scheduled farewell meeting for the outgoing ambassador.

Whiteley said he enjoyed the journey but regretted not being able to arrive on time.

He shared a video of their journey from the FDC end of the expressway to the parliament on the microblogging site X. Spanier filmed the video.

In the video, they can be seen navigating narrowly between cars and the expressway railings at times. There are moments where the EU deputy ambassador is seen walking along the railing.

Alongside the video, Whiteley wrote: "We abandoned the car on the expressway due to protests and made it to the call on Hon Speaker by CNG."

Referring humorously to Spanier's video, he added, "A commemorative video made by Bernd, including a death-defying high-wire sequence."

Whiteley, who has served as the EU ambassador to Bangladesh since September 2021, will depart Dhaka in August. As he wraps up his second assignment in Dhaka, he is actively engaged in farewell meetings with various levels of government and non-governmental entities.

Reposting Whiteley's video, Spanier wrote: "Never a dull day in #Dhaka with @CWhiteleyEU."

Responding to a comment on the post, Whiteley wrote: "We enjoyed a slice of normal life - apart from being late for Hon Speaker."

In a subsequent reply, an EU headquarters official wrote: "You’re both great! Greetings from Brussels."

Reposting the comment, Whiteley wrote: "Bernd was a veritable Spider-Man."

A notification from the national parliament highlighted Whiteley's farewell meeting with the speaker, saying: "They discussed various European Union activities with the national parliament, including the Parliamentary Friendship Group."

Speaker Shirin said: "The Parliamentary Friendship Group can significantly enhance bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the European Union."

The speaker said budget debriefing sessions are integral during parliamentary sessions, allowing lawmakers to gain insights into budgetary matters.

She also acknowledged the EU's substantial contribution to the success of these sessions in parliament.

Whiteley praised Shirin for her longstanding role as Speaker, saying: "She has been instrumental in advancing women's empowerment and gender equality."

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