Sunday 5 July 2020.Time-
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BNP mum on Taranco -Khaleda meet

TarancoDhaka, 08 December, Abnews : UN emissary Oscar Fernandez-Taranco called on Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia on Saturday in an apparent last-ditch effort to end the political predicament in Bangladesh. But the BNP has refrained from making any official comment on the issues discussed in the meeting.

After the meeting on Saturday night, party Vice-Chairman Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told reporters, Nothing can be said until the discussion ends. Another meeting will take place in the next couple of days. Then the issues will be disclosed. He however said they discussed various issues with the UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs.

Fernandez-Taranco met the BNP Chairperson an hour after he held a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The nearly two-hour-long meeting at Khaleda’s Gulshan residence in Dhaka had begun at 7pm. Shamser Mobin Chowdhury briefed the media persons after the meeting ended. Asked about the agendas of the meeting, he said, Many issues were discussed. Nothing can be said specifically now.

The reporters asked whether they discussed the Prime Minister’s announcement that the 10th parliamentary election would be held on Jan 5 according to the schedule and following the Constitution. In reply, Chowdhury said, We don’t want to say anything about the Prime Minister’s remarks. We [BNP and UN envoy] will sit again in the next couple of days. Then you [journalists] will be briefed.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has already written to two leaders calling for ending the crisis. Our discussion was held based on that, he added. The main opposition party’s Standing Committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan, Khaleda’s advisors Riaz Rahman and Sabih Uddin Ahmed were also present at the meeting.

The UN envoy was accompanied by UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Neal Walker and several other officials. Prior to his meeting with Khaleda, Fernandez-Taranco had a one-to-one meeting with Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban in the afternoon that lasted more than 90 minutes.

During the meeting, Fernandez-Taranco sought to know from the Prime Minister whether the polls date could be deferred, Hasina’s International Affairs Advisor Gowher Rizvi said after the meeting. Rizvi said Hasina told the UN emissary that it was for the Election Commission to decide.

Earlier in the day, Fernandez-Taranco held a meeting with a seven-member delegation of senior Awami League leaders, which was led by party General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon.

The ruling party delegation included Advisory Council members Tofail Ahmed, Amir Hossain Amu and Gowher Rizvi, Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif, International Affairs Secretary Faruk Khan and former diplomat Shahed Reza. Before meeting the Awami League leaders, the UN emissary had a 30-minute meeting with the US ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena at the hotel.

The Argentinean arrived in Dhaka on Friday evening, in what the UN said, to encourage political parties for a dialogue to hold the Jan 5 parliamentary elections. He commenced his peace mission by meeting Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali and Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque in the morning.Ministry officials said the UN envoy stressed on holding inclusive elections.

Fernandez-Taranco had come to Dhaka seven months earlier. He had during his first visit pitched for an immediate dialogue among political parties to find a solution to the crisis and insisted home-grown solutions.

His second visit to encourage dialogue comes at a time when Bangladesh is witnessing an eruption of violence, particularly bomb and arson attacks during the programmes of the agitating Opposition. During his earlier visit in May this year, the UN official handed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s letters to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia. But since then, political tension escalated with elections approaching.

Over 50 people died in violence during the Opposition backed blockade in the last two weeks. A similar 72-hour blockade has started from Saturday 6am. Earlier, Ban Ki-Moon also personally spoken to the two top leaders but a solution remained elusive. Ban recently wrote again to Hasina and Khaleda and expressed hope that two warring leaders would move towards ‘all-party’ general elections in January.


Abn/Sun-01/National/Desk/Nazmul Houda/Mustafiz/Fatama

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