Ban Ki-moon writes to Hasina, Khaleda
Sheikh Shahariar Zaman, Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

In the letter to the prime minister, the UN chief reportedly wrote about the necessity of a free and fair election and holding a dialogue in this regard

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has sent separate letters to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition chief Khaleda Zia in the build up to his deputy’s scheduled Dhaka trip next week.

Although main opposition BNP’s Vice-Chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury confirmed receiving the letter, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was yet to do so.

A foreign ministry official told the Dhaka Tribune that the premier had received the letter.

UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco is due in Dhaka on December 6 on a five-day trip.

In the letter to the prime minister, the UN chief reportedly wrote about the necessity of a free and fair election and holding a dialogue in this regard, the official said.

“It is a routine letter in which the secretary general has written to the prime minister that he is sending Taranco to Dhaka and sought cooperation on his deputy’s behalf,” he said.

The letter was sent to the PMO on Wednesday after UN Resident

Coordinator Neil Walker met Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque at the ministry.

On the other hand, although BNP Vice-Chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury confirmed that the opposition chief received the UN chief’s letter, he refused to disclose anything in detail about it. “Even If I knew the content [of the letter], I cannot disclose it.”

This will be Taranco’s third visit to Bangladesh. He came to Dhaka in December last year and this May.

Similar letters were sent to the two ladies during Taranco’s previous two visits as well.

During Taranco’s visit, he would hold meetings with the Election Commission and the foreign secretary. The meeting with the EC would be a technical one and discuss how UN could help holding the next election, the foreign ministry official said.

The UN did not have any mandate to send any observer for monitoring election but it might facilitate observers of other countries and regions, he said.

In the last two visits, Taranco held series of meetings with all the major stakeholders including the prime minister, leader of the opposition, speaker of the house, chief election commissioner, leaders of other political parties and members of the civil society.

During his last visit in May, the deputy UN chief expressed concerns with the fast running out time for finding a path to holding free, fair, credible and non-violent elections.

On October 22, BNP claimed that Taranco had called up BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, welcoming BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s proposal for forming polls-time government with advisers to the past caretaker governments.

On September 8, US Secretary of State John Kerry sent separate letters to the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. He also urged the two leaders to come to a consensus regarding the next elections. 

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