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International moves on to end Bangladesh political deadlock
Dhaka | November 30, 2006 2:20:59 PM IST
 
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Alongside a number of local initiatives, international quarters have launched moves to forge a negotiation between the two major Bangladeshi political camps, sharply divided between Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, over the holding of the January general elections peacefully.

The deadlock, which was about to end with Chief Election Commissioner M A Aziz's decision to step aside last week in the face of a mass movement, intensified again on Monday when President Iajuddin Ahmed appointed two more controversial commissioners to the Election Commission, and the commission hastily announced the polls schedule with January 21 as the date for voting.

The Awami League-led political alliance has rejected the polls schedule and called upon the people to enforce another round of transport blockades across the country.

Concerned by the political turmoil, the United Nations sent an emissary to negotiate between the opposing parties, especially to pursue them for taking part in the general elections.

"I have come here to support free, fair and democratic elections as the people of this country want peaceful elections," the UN secretary general's special envoy, Craig Jenness who is now visiting Bangladesh, told reporters on Wednesday.

"All the major political parties should participate in the parliamentary polls and get equal scope for contest," Jenness, who met President Iajuddin Ahmed and AL chief Sheikh Hasina, said.

He underscored for holding dialogue to resolve issues, whatever they are.

The European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and some Asian counties, including China and Japan, have also taken up simultaneous moves to bridge the division among the caretaker government, Election Commission and political camps to help to ensure credible elections.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, John Gastight Jr, is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on December 3 on a two-day official visit to convey his government's stance for acceptable elections with the participation of all the major political parties in Bangladesh.

During his visit, he is expected to meet the chief adviser, advisers and top leaders of major political parties and civil society representatives.

The US Ambassador in Dhaka, Patricia A Butenis, on Wednesday night met with the immediate past prime minister, Khaleda Zia, to discuss Gastight's planned parley with Khaleda in the milieu of current political standoff.

It would be a 'follow-up' mission, within a month, in Bangladesh after the visit of the US assistant secretary of state, Richard Boucher, over the political developments in few months.

The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury, also held a meeting with Khaleda Zia, Tuesday evening presumably on issues concerning the parliamentary elections.

The Australian High Commissioner, Douglas Foskett, on Wednesday met President Iajuddin Ahmed at Bangabhaban, the presidential palace, where both of them observed that it is not important which party comes to power, rather the holding of fair elections was what mattered the most.

The UN resident coordinator, Renata Lok Dessalien, European Union ambassador Stefan Frowein, and envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and some Asian counties also held separate parleys with the chief adviser, advisers, Election Commission and the key political leaders apparently to help to resolve the current political impasse

Meanwhile, President Iajuddin Ahmed sent his adviser Mokhlesur Rahman Chowdhury to the Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, and the BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, apparently to resolve the current political stalemate.Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus has also urged the two major political camps to reach a 'peace accord' to avoid conflicts.

He suggested that even for forming a coalition government, political stability in Bangladesh was essential. (ANI)

 

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