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Foreign diplomats insist dialogue for fresh poll

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Staff Reporter

Foreign diplomats in Dhaka yesterday hoped a meaningful dialogue can lead to a fresh election as soon as possible.

“We hope that the dialogue will lead to elections as soon as possible. We see the need to have an environment that conducive to dialogue and an environment that conducive to elections,” US ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozen told reporters.

The US envoy came up with the remarks after a one-hour meeting between a group of foreign diplomats and BNP leaders at Heritage Hotel in the city’s Gulshan area from 4pm to 5pm.

At the meeting, BNP leaders briefed the foreign envoys about the country’s latest political situation and the party’s stance on the January 5 election and formation of the new government.

Diplomats or representatives from 34 countries and agencies, including the European Union, the USA, the UK, Canada, India, Pakistan and Arab nations, were present at the meeting.

Mozena said the views of his country are very clear. “We’re disappointed by the elections. We feel it didn’t credibly reflect the will of the Bangladeshi people.”

He further said, “We are pleased that seemingly both sides (Awami League and BNP) are looking ahead to dialogue. We encourage immediate dialogue.”

The US diplomat said both sides can take some measures that will help create an environment conducive to dialogue. “For example, BNP could stop hartal and blockade, and refrain from violence and violent programmes. “Violence is never acceptable. Violence must stop immediately.”

On the part of the government, he said, it could provide political space. “It’s the responsibility of the government to provide political space for holding rallies or processions,” he noted.

The government should allow free access to offices of various opposition parties, he thought.

Echoing Mozena, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna said he also felt that it is very important that there should be a condition created for dialogue to be able to take place. “There should be reduction in temperature. There should be a possibility of talks,” he said.

About the January 5 elections, he said, “We’ve expressed disappointment that the people of Bangladesh did not get the opportunity to vote and express fully their democratic rights.”

Canadian High Commission in Dhaka Heather Cruden said it is needed to stop violence as violence is not a political tool which can be used officially. “We’re very pleased to hear that BNP had called off blockade and hartal, and we hope this will definitely create a space for dialogue among the political parties.”

BNP vice-chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said they invited the foreign envoys to inform BNP’s stance about the January 5 parliamentary elections.