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UN mission's parleys with Bangladesh govt

Publication Date : 10-12-2013


UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco yesterday expressed hope for a solution to the crisis over polls-time government but with four vital “ifs”.

It was the first time he spoke to the press since flying in three days ago.

Meanwhile, with the opposition’s blockade stretched till Friday, people wait keenly to see if any solution comes out of the UN mission’s four-day troubleshooting that ends today.

Talking to reporters at the Election Commission (EC) Secretariat after a 15-minute second-round meeting with the Chief Election Commission (CEC) in the afternoon, Taranco said, “I do believe that there is a possibility of a peaceful solution to this current deadlock — if we’ve a political will, we’ve leadership, if we’ve an attitude of compromise, most importantly if we’re engaged into a peaceful dialogue.”

He added, “I know that you would like to hear more right now. I still have many other meetings to go through. I want to reassure that we will have the opportunity to brief the media before I leave. This is as much as I would like to say right now. It might be some useful information for all of you.”

The UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs did not take any question from the reporters saying he had more meetings and would meet the media before his departure.

Before his departure, he is scheduled to brief the press at 5:30pm today after a second and last-round talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at 4:00pm.

Yesterday evening, the CEC said important discussion was going on to resolve the political deadlock.

“We will not make any comment while important discussion is going on. Let the discussion continue and see what happens finally,” he told reporters at the EC Secretariat.

Taranco, who came here to encourage political parties to initiate dialogue, met the opposition party BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan residence around 6:00pm.

Neither the UN side nor BNP said anything specific about the meeting.

But two BNP leaders, who were present at the meeting, told The Daily Star that the UN delegation wanted to know what would be the party’s position if the election is held under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with her powers curtailed.

Khaleda didn’t accept the idea.

Taranco also said the election can be held in the presence of a big observer team of UN, BBC Bangla reported.

The BNP side said it would welcome the UN observers but never allow an election under Hasina even if her executive power is curtailed.

Taranco discussed limiting the executive powers of Hasina to bring BNP to election at a meeting with some top Awami League leaders yesterday, sources say.

Later at the secretariat, PM’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi said Awami League and UN representatives have reached a consensus on not disclosing the conversation between them until talks are ended.

According to some AL leaders, the party might agree on curtailing the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina but it would not accept any election after January 24.

The five-member UN mission also made swift talks with a Jamaat delegation led by its Assistant Secretary General Abdur Razzaq.

Emerging from the meeting with the UN team at Sonargaon Hotel, Razzaq told reporters that they discussed about how the next election could be free, fair, impartial and acceptable to all and how level-playing can be created.

“We gave our opinion on how peaceful, acceptable election can be held with participation of all parties. Another issue was discussed and that was how violence could be contained.”

On a question regarding the cancellation of Jamaat’s registration, he said the party cannot participate in the election following a High Court verdict but it is possible to find out a solution how the party can participate in the election.

At the meet, the UN officials said violence is not acceptable.

“We (Jamaat) also said violence is unwarranted to everybody. We told the UN officials that if a level playing field for a free, fair, and participatory election is ensured, the ongoing violence will be no more,” he added.

On the war crimes trial of Jamaat leaders, Razzaq said everybody wants the trial but the trial is below the par of international standard even below the standard of domestic practice.

The meeting, which continued for about 35 minutes from 10:05am, was attended by Jamaat leaders Jasimuddin Sarkar, Abdullah Mohammad Taher and Mir Ahmed Bin Kashem.

The UN official also met the Russian ambassador at the latter’s Gulshan residence.



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