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7 November, 2018 12:33:24 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 November, 2018 01:50:10 AM
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All eyes on Oikyafront second round of talks with PM today

Resolving impasse over polls
Staff Reporter, Dhaka
All eyes on Oikyafront second round of talks with PM today

Politicians, analysts and the masses alike are pinning their hopes on the country’s leaders to find a solution to the current political impasse over the holding of the 11th parliamentary elections in today’s crucial dialogue between the ruling Awami League-led 14 party alliance and the newly formed Jatiya Oikyafront.

After the first round of talks, the Oikyafront is going to hold the second round of dialogue with the 14-party, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at her residence Ganabhaban today.

Discussions opened up on many fronts following the first dialogue between the two alliances held on November 1, apparently pointing to a thawing of relations in the political arena. After the Nov 1 dialogue, the Oikyafront leaders revisited their seven point charter of demands and opined to make certain concessions. Oikyafront leaders said some of their demands are yet to be negotiated and sought another round of talks with the ruling alliance. Meanwhile, the Awami League brought up the prospect of discussing the release of imprisoned BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on parole for treatment – a key demand of the Oikyafront member BNP.

After the first meeting with the Oikyafront on November 1, ruling party leaders also said they are ready to hold more talks with Oikyafront leaders on electoral affairs. But the government has repeatedly said it would not hold further talks with any other political party or alliance after November 7. So, today’s talks assume special significance to all.

Oikyafront leader and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal general secretary Abdul Malek Ratan yesterday said they will take an 11-member delegation, including experts, to the dialogue. The decision was taken at a meeting of the senior alliance leaders at Dr Kamal Hossain’s Motijheel chamber in the capital.

Ratan, however, declined to disclose the name of the delegation members.

Talking to The Independent, BNP Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan termed the dialogue very important for reaching an understanding for the interest of the country and its people.

He said that all of their current demands, except the call for the formation of election-time government, are in line with the constitution and the government can accepts these demands for the sake of holding a free, fair and neutral election.

He also said that the release of Khaleda Zia is central to a successful outcome of the dialogue. Referring to the instance of an AL leader holding a position in the cabinet despite being sentenced to 13

years in jail in a graft case, the BNP leader said Khaleda Zia can also be released and allowed to contest the polls, if the government agrees.

“During the dialogue, our leaders would only explain as to how an election-time government could be formed within the framework of the constitution,” he said.

When asked about today’s dialogue, AL Presidium Member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya said the ruling party has no benefit from the dialogue, but it is very important to overcome the current political impasse prevailing in the country.

“It will be beneficial for the country if the Oikyafront can reach an understanding over their demands,” he added.

At the first meeting, the Oikyafront had placed their seven demands, that included holding the elections under a non-partisan government, dissolving Parliament before the polls and restructuring the Election Commission, releasing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia and other jailed political persons.

Party insiders said Oikyafront leaders now would mainly negotiate on three points—dissolving Parliament, keeping Oikyafront leaders in the election-time government and releasing Khaleda Zia so that she can participate in the polls.

The Prime Minister would brief journalists about the outcome of the talks at Gana Bhaban on Thursday.

The Oikyafront held a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan yesterday (Tuesday) and called upon the government to dissolve Parliament ahead of elections and form an election-time government with representatives of all parties for holding free and fair polls.

Earlier on Monday, Oikyafront leaders held a meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner, KM Nurul Huda, requesting him not to announce the schedule for elections without knowing the outcome of the dialogue with the ruling party.

After its first round of talks with the Oikyafront, the AL-led alliance held a series of dialogue with other political parties and alliances, like the Jukta Front led by Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh president Dr AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and Islamic parties. The Jukta Front and other political parties have expressed satisfaction over the talks with the ruling party, as many of their demands have been met, they claimed. Dialogue with the Left Democratic Alliance was held yesterday.

Election experts said the whole nation is closely watching the dialogue between the government and the Oikya Front. They fear that if the dialogue fails to reach an acceptable level, it might affect the coming polls.

The Oikyafront was launched on October 13 with the BNP and three other political parties, including the Gono Forum of Dr Kamal Hossain, aiming for free and fair polls. The other partners of the Oikyafront are the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, led by ASM Abdur Rab, and Nagorik Oikya, led by Mahmudur Rahman Manna.

Although Dr AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury was working in the formation of Oikya Front, his party did not join the Oikya Front. He and some other parties forged another alliance, Jukta Front.

In another major development, the Krishak Sramik Janata League, led by its president Kader Siddique, also joined the Jatiya Oikyafront on Monday.

SR

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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