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Constitution to be followed

PM tells Taranco

Staff Correspondent

UN Assistant Secretary-General for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco meets prime minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Saturday. — New Age photoUN Assistant Secretary-General for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco meets prime minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Saturday. — New Age photo

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Saturday told UN assistant secretary general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco that she would act in accordance with the constitution and follow democratic process in holding the 10th parliamentary elections.
Gowher Rizvi, foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, informed reporters after a one-on-one meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Fernandez-Taranco that the UN official had called for deferring the polls schedule but the prime minister told him that the issue of rescheduling of the polls was under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission.
The hour-long meeting began at 4:50pm and ended at 5:50pm at the prime minister’s official residence Ganabhaban.
Rizvi said Fernandez-Taranco had handed over a message of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to the prime minister. Quoting the message, Rizvi said the UN secretary general had stressed the need for creating a level-playing field for holding the elections. The prime minister told the UN envoy that the polls would be held in accordance with the constitution.
Before the one-to-one meeting with the prime minister, a delegation-level discussion was held between the two sides.
Earlier, a delegation of Awami League leaders held a meeting with Fernandez-Taranco at Sonargaon hotel. AL general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam led the seven-member team at the talks. 
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Syed Ashraf hoped that the initiatives taken by the United Nations for an inclusive and peaceful election would be fruitful like its initiatives before the last general elections.
‘Following the initiatives of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the last general elections were held. This time too we hope that his initiative and the discussions with his assistant secretary over the next general elections would be fruitful,’ he said.
Ban Ki-moon visited Dhaka in November 1-2, 2008 and discussed different issues relating to politics, economy and social affairs ahead of the 9th general elections.
Ashraf said no specific issue was discussed in the meeting with Taranco on Saturday afternoon. ‘Primary discussions were held on the election. There would be more talks with him. We hope the discussions would be fruitful as we want democracy to continue [functioning] and they [UN] also want so,’ he said, adding that ‘both sides’ would need ‘some spaces’ for reaching a consensus to ensure an election participated by ‘all political parties’.
Replying to a question, Ashraf clarified that ‘all political parties’ meant that the election would be held with the participation of the political parties which had already been involved in the current electoral process.
About the election schedules, he said that the 10th parliamentary elections must be held on January 5 as per the schedules.
Land minister Amir Hossain Amu, industries minister Tofail Ahmed, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi, former commerce minister Faruk Khan, AL joint general secretary Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif and former diplomat Shahed Reza were on the AL delegation at the meeting that started around 1:40pm and ended around 3:30pm.
Fernandez-Taranco started his Bangladesh mission by holding meetings with foreign minister AH Mahmud Ali and foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque.

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