Dhaka, The ruling camp and opposition leaders completed their first round of dialogue, but without any thaw in the country’s political deadlock over holding of the new general elections in a free and fair manner.
After the talks at Ganabhaban, none of the participants reported any progress in most critical issues, especially formation of a poll-time government and release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. Our leaders raised complaints and relevant issues. We, however, didn’t get any special solution over there, Kamal Hossain, leader of Jatiya Oikya Front, told newsmen at his Bailey Road residence around 11:45pm.
On the Ganabhaban compound, ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader termed the dialogue successful.Opposition BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir twice said his party is not satisfied with the discussion. “Our [demonstration] programme will continue,” he told newsmen.
At the talks, the BNP leader iterated the seven-point demand of the Front. Premier Hasina made opening remarks but did not touch on the pending issues.
The demands include installation of a neutral interim government, dissolution of parliament, reconstitution the election commission, release of all the political prisoners, deployment of army and cancellation of the move to use EVM for holding the next polls in fair and acceptable manner.
When asked if there was any new decision on election-time government, Quader only referred to the constitution which has no caretaker government provision after the AL government scrapped the system in 2011.He also called irrelevant the issue of release of Khaleda Zia. “It’s a matter of law and the court. We didn’t frame those cases against her, rather the caretaker government did it.” the AL said.
Claiming that the two sides – AL-led 14-party alliance and Jatiya Oikya Front led by Kamal Hossain -agreed on a few issues and they would hold further talks after 8 November.
If they want to join the talks, the prime minister’s door is open and such talks may be held after 8 November, the AL leader added.
Kamal Hossain said there was no progress except one issue — holding public rallies without any disturbances created by the law enforcement.
There will be no barrier to holding meetings and rallies. The prime minister has already asked the law enforcement in this regard, Subrata Chowdhury, executive president of Gano Forum and leader of the Front, said while reading out the formal statement.
About the allegations of concocted cases, both Quader and Subrata said the coalition leaders raised it with the prime minister who asked them to submit a list for taking necessary steps.
The Front leaders demanded delaying announcement of polls schedule, but prime minister Sheikh Hasina said this is the jurisdiction of the election commission, the leaders of the two camps said.
“Prime minister assured Oikya Front leaders of allowing foreign observers to oversee the elections. Regarding their reservation on use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in polls, the prime minister said EVMs would be used in a limited scale. The two sides held talks for more than three hours beginning around 7:00pm.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina led a 23-member delegation of the 14-party alliance while Kamal Hossain led the 20-member team including senior BNP leaders.
The talks were held following the AL president, prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s response to Kamal Hossain’s letter earlier this week, urging her to hold dialogue.