AL, BNP stand their ground as Taranco wraps up visitStaff Correspondent
Ruling and opposition political camps in the two rounds of sitting the visiting UN assistant secretary general Oscar Fernández-Taranco brokered remained stubborn on respective conditions for the beginning of a dialogue to break the current political impasse.
The UN move followed escalating violence because of the rigid stance of both the ruling and the opposition camp over the next parliamentary elections but after the two sittings, the parties started speaking the language they did before the mediation move.
Both Awami League and BNP leaders hurriedly left the meeting venue avoiding the media after their second sitting on Wednesday. The BNP at a news conference in the afternoon once again called on people to wage a movement for a non-partisan government for the holding of the elections.
The Awami League delegation at the sittings asked BNP leaders to call off all their agitation programmes before beginning the dialogue and the BNP delegation said they could not begin discussions keeping their leaders with its leaders being in jail, senior leaders of both the parties said.
The Awami League said that a meaningful atmosphere to begin the dialogue could be created only after programmes such as general strikes and blockades in which public property is damaged, people are killed and arson attacks and bombings are taking place, the safety and security of lives and property are threatened are called off. Discussions will not be meaningful if such ‘anarchy’ was not stopped, the Awami League said.
BNP leaders were also pushing for the release of their leaders and activists arrested earlier and demanded a non-partisan, election-time government to hold the next general elections.
The Awami League delegation again said that the detained BNP leaders leaders would be released and the discussion on an election-time government could be held only if the BNP ensured that it would stop its ‘subversive activities in the name of enforcing general strikes and blockades.’
Leaders of both the parties remained silent about the outcome of the second-round meeting held in the office of a UNDP-funded project of the local government and rural development ministry at Gulshan in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Fernández-Taranco after the meeting specified three measures that could contribute immensely to breaking the impasse and creating a congenial atmosphere — a call by all sides to end violence, the release of opposition political leaders, and a mutually satisfactory solution to concerns regarding the elections schedule.
Fernández-Taranco said that the situation was still critical in reducing tension and political leaders should continue to engage in a constructive dialogue to create a congenial atmosphere for credible elections.
BNP leaders at the news conference in the afternoon asked the chief election commissioner to suspend the polls schedule and said that he might need to stand in the dock, otherwise, one day.
They also claimed that the party’s chairperson Khaleda Zia had always wanted a resolution to problems through dialogues and understanding but the ruling quarters were out to hold a one-sided election keeping the opposition outside the process as the ruling party would lose.
‘The ongoing programmes began before Fernández-Taranco’s arrival... And it will go on until a consensus is reached,’ BNP standing committee
member Nazrul Islam Khan said at the news conference.
‘We sat for the dialogue hoping for a satisfactory resolution and to find a way to the resolution. So far it [resolution] has not come. We should continue with street agitation... and you know, there is no such development regarding the consensus,’ he added.
Fernández-Taranco arrived in Dhaka on Friday evening and met the prime minister, the leader of the opposition in the parliament, the chief election commissioner and other political leaders. He could convince leaders of the Awami League and the BNP to sit across the table on Monday night.
The first round of meeting was held at the house Neal Walker, the UN resident coordinator in Dhaka, on Tuesday.
Syed Ashraful Islam, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed and Gowher Rizvi were on the Awami League side and Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, Abdul Moin Khan and Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury were on the BNP side.
After the meeting, Fernández-Taranco said that the ruling and the opposition party had agreed to continue with the dialogues in the spirit of goodwill and compromise and work together constructively to ease tension and build confidence.
After a long two-hour sitting for the second time, Fernández-Taranco on Wednesday called on the leaders to continue with the move for the dialogue and he viewed bringing the two parties across the table as the success of his mission.
Fernández-Taranco also met a delegation of senior citizens led by jurist Kamal Hossain where they told him that ‘the train of a one-sided election should be stopped for a while’ and an inclusive election should be held.
On reaching Dhaka, Fernández-Taranco met the prime minister and wanted know whether it was possible to defer the election schedule and the prime minister said that it was up to the Election Commission to decide.
The next day he met the chief election commissioner, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, and he told Fernández-Taranco that the election schedule could be deferred within the legal and constitutional framework if the UN could broker an agreement between the ruling and the opposition camp.
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