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B'desh political parties call for deferment of polls

Publication Date : 09-12-2013


The Jatiya Party, the country's third largest party and a key ally of the ruling Awami League in Bangladesh, and civil society members have also called for deferring the polls scheduled for January 5.

In efforts to help the feuding parties to reach a consensus, visiting UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco yesterday held talks with JP Chairman HM Ershad, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed and PM’s Adviser Gowher Rizvi.

He also had meetings with four representatives of the civil society, Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran and opposition party the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury.

Emerging from a meeting with the UN official at the Sonargaon Hotel, eminent jurist Kamal Hossain said, “It is legally possible to defer the election schedule … I believe it is possible … still it is possible.”

Kamal along with academic Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, jurist Shahdeen Malik and Sujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar had talks with Fernández-Taranco for over an hour.

They conveyed to the UN official their strong disapproval of a one-sided election.

Earlier, the JP had told Fernández-Taranco that the election schedule must be deferred to find a way to hold an inclusive election through dialogue among all political parties.

After a meeting with the UN official at the Election Commission, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed, chief election commissioner, said everything was possible under the legal framework if all political parties could reach a consensus.

“The delegation wanted to know whether it is possible to defer the election. We told them (the UN delegation) that there are scopes for many things if a consensus is reached among all parties,” he told reporters in the afternoon.

“As the UN delegation is trying to find out a way for holding an election with the participation of all, it will not be wise to make further comment on it. Rather, we all should keep our hopes alive,” he added.

Fernández-Taranco was supposed to hold a meeting with a delegation of Jamaat-e-Islami at 4:30pm, but it was postponed.

The UN official arrived in Dhaka on Friday on a four-day visit to see an agreement between the ruling and the opposition parties over the holding of the next parliamentary election.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Dan Mozena met the Indian high commissioner at the latter’s residence yesterday morning to discuss the latest political development in Bangladesh and the UN initiative to break the political deadlock.

Contacted, US Embassy Spokesperson Kelly McCarthy said it was part of the US ambassador’s regular meetings with his counterparts and day-to-day activities in Bangladesh.

Briefing reporters around 4:00pm, Kamal said, “Nobody wants a one-sided election … what is happening now is unexpected … we told them that the train of one-sided election needs to be stopped.”

The UN official echoed the view and told the civil society members that the UN would continue its efforts to see an “inclusive, non-violent and acceptable” election, he said.

“We have asked them (the UN) to keep up their efforts.”

Kamal, also president of the Gono Forum, said they had been working to help the political parties reach a consensus and they would continue their efforts.
Asked whether they suggested holding the election under a caretaker government or in line with the present constitution, he said the election should be participatory and acceptable to all irrespective of the method.

Expressing concern at the ongoing violence, he said what is happening now is unexpected and the country is suffering irreparable losses.

Referring to the CEC’s recent statements, Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik, said the CEC repeatedly stated that the election schedule could be deferred if all political parties could reach a consensus.

Shahdeen Malik said they want an election with everyone’s participation, and it must be peaceful.

“We want it … the UN and the entire world wants a peaceful and participatory election.”

After the UN delegation met JP leaders at Ershad’s Baridhara residence yesterday morning, JP General Secretary Ruhul Amin Hawlader said the current situation is not conducive to holding the polls according to the existing election schedule.

JP presidium member GM Quader said, “The UN official wanted to know the Jatiya Party’s view on the political impasse. We told him that it is not a proper time to hold the polls.”

The JP leaders told him that the election should be deferred and it has to be ensured that all parties can participate in the election, said Quader.

Fernández-Taranco also held a 90-minute meeting with BNP leaders Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury and Sabihuddin Ahmed at Mobin’s Banani residence in the evening.

Mobin, however, declined to give any details, saying the issues discussed at the meeting were very sensitive.

The visiting UN official is scheduled to hold a breakfast meeting with a business delegation at 8:30am today at the Sonargaon Hotel and to have talks with a Jamaat delegation at 10:00am.

He is expected to have meetings again with an Awami League delegation led by party’s General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at 6:00pm at her Gulshan residence, and have dinner with foreign diplomats at 7:30pm.

Fernández-Taranco will hold a second round of meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and hold a press conference before his departure tomorrow evening.election, said Quader.




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