Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam on Saturday hoped that the discussion with visiting UN delegation will be ‘fruitful’ and sought cooperation from all in holding the national election with the participation of all parties now in the election process.
“It’s a primary discussion with the delegation. It’s our first round of discussion. We’ll discuss more and things will be clearer then. We hope the discussion will be fruitful,” he told reporters emerging from a nearly two-hour meeting with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández Taranco at Hotel Sonargaon in the city yesterday.
Responding to a question, Syed Ashraf, also the LGRD Minister, said they did not discuss any specific issue as it was a primary discussion, and mentioned that there would be a series of discussions. “We’ll discuss on specific issues in the next round of meetings.”
Asked whether the discussion was about an election with the participation of all parties, he said all parties do not take part in the election. “I talked about the parties that are right now in the election process…there’re parties which do not take part in election.”
He said they are very much assured that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, through his own initiative, sent them (UN delegation) to Dhaka.
Syed Ashraf recalled that the UN chief’s visit to Bangladesh before the last national election that had seen a fruitful dialogue and ensured an election with the participation of all parties.
“The meeting with Ban Ki-moon during 1/11 had been held in the same room where we sat today. The meeting was very much successful. And because of that successful dialogue the election was held and all parties took part in that election,” he said hoping that the dialogue will be fruitful this time, too.
The AL spokesperson said they (political leaders) have to be given time and space so that the democratic process continues. “You’ve to give us time. You need to have patience. You want welfare of the nation. You also want continuation of democratic process. So, we need some space. They also need some space. We hope you’ll cooperate with us so that we can hold the election with all.”
Land Minister and Awami League advisory council member Amir Hossain Amu, Industries Minister Tofail Ahmed, Foreign Affairs Adviser to PM Gowher Rizvi, former Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, Awami League joint general secretary Mahbub Ul Alam Hanif and AL leader Shahed Reza were also present at the meeting with Taranco that started at around 1.40 pm.
Earlier, Taranco started his Bangladesh mission by holding meetings with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and Foreign Minister AH Mahmud Ali.
Taranco had nearly 46-minute discussions with Shahidul Haque that started from 10:00am. Later, he held the second meeting with the Foreign Minister at his office that lasted for nearly 45 minutes.
He held lengthy discussion with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban and was scheduled to meet BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan residence at 7pm on Saturday.
He also held meeting with US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena at Sonargaon Hotel before meeting the AL delegation.
Taranco arrived here on Friday evening amid the country’s murky political situation that has cast a shadow on its January-5 general election.
His visit is aimed at encouraging ‘dialogue and conditions’ conducive to parliamentary elections scheduled for January 5, said a statement issued by UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka, Neal Walker.
During his stay here, the UN envoy will also meet Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, senior leaders of the Awami League and BNP, representatives from the government, civil society and the international community to help ensure free, fair and credible polls in Bangladesh.
Taranco will leave Dhaka on December 10 and report back to the UN chief on the outcome of his Bangladesh visit ahead of the election, said an official source.
On May 13 in Dhaka, he gave an idea what could be the consequences in case of unreliable polls and fruitless dialogue saying, “Everybody knows the consequences. The history of Bangladesh is already a good indicator what consequences can be if you don’t have a free, fair and credible election…the political actors could clearly understand what the consequences would be.”
Last week, Ban Ki-moon wrote to Bangladesh’s two top leaders - Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia - and encouraged them to reach a mutually agreed consensus through ‘constructive dialogue’ to hold a ‘non- violent’ election in Bangladesh with the participation of all parties.
The UN envoy visited Bangladesh from May 10 to 13 at the request of Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.
During his last visit to Dhaka, he met the Prime Minister, the BNP chairperson, the Speaker of Parliament, the Foreign Minister, the Chief Election Commissioner, leaders of major political parties, and the representatives of civil society and the media.
Taranco conveyed to all interlocutors a strong message from the Secretary-General about the urgent need for more meaningful and constructive political dialogue to create conducive conditions for the successful holding of the election.
During his last visit, the UN envoy also stressed the need for an early solution to the issue of a polls-time government through dialogue to ensure a free, fair and peaceful national election reminding political parties that ‘time is running out’.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and urged them to hold talks for a peaceful resolution of the political crisis.
Talks with Taranco to be fruitful: Ashraf