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Dhaka Tribune

UN envoy in city on political mission, discusses poll-time govt

Update : 11 May 2013, 05:49 AM

UN assistant secretary-general for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco arrived in Dhaka yesterday on a four-day trip to discuss the upcoming elections with the government, the ruling party, the opposition and the Election Commission.

“A series of meeting will be held with all of them during the next couple of days,” an UN official said. However, the official refused to disclose the complete list of issues to be discussed in these meetings.

Taranco upon his arrival hold a meeting with selected members of the civil society on Friday afternoon, discussing the current political scenario, next general elections, and possible solutions to the divide over the poll-time government, said Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya, a civil society platform, while talking to the Dhaka Tribune over phone yesterday evening.

Some of the participants suggested that a solution could be reached on amendment to the constitution keeping (the opposition) BNP in confidence, he said.

The assistant secretary general of UN wanted to know how a credible election could be held under the existing constitutional provisions, Manna said.

Meanwhile, Taranco is set to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban at 10am today, a close associate to the PM told the Dhaka Tribune.

He will meet opposition BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan office at 6pm today, a BNP leader confirmed.

The leader said, in his previous meeting with the BNP chief last year, Taranco had discussed ways of holding a “peaceful, inclusive and credible” election, for which the party has been waging movements since the caretaker government system was scrapped.

The senior BNP leader also said, “Today’s meeting is basically a follow-up as he visited Dhaka last year and talked to different political parties for an inclusive and credible election.”

Another senior leader of the party told the Dhaka Tribune, “It seems logical that the BNP would respond to the proposals [if there is any] after they are made aware of the extent of the intentions to which the United Nations secretary general is prepared to go.”

Taranco is also set to participate in meetings with representatives of Jatiya Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and left leaning parties.

A foreign ministry official said the assistant secretary general will hold a meeting with the Speaker of the parliament Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed on Tuesday.

He visited Bangladesh from December 6 to 9 last year at the request of the UN secretary-general for exchanging views on the political situation of the country and ongoing UN electoral assistance. He encouraged the parties concerned to engage in constructive dialogue towards these ends.

The political situation of the country worsened after annulling the caretaker government system in 2011 through 15th amendment of the constitution following a Supreme Court verdict, though in its short verdict it was said that next two elections could be held under the caretaker government system.

The argument given was that a non-elected and non-representative body like the caretaker could easily misuse power and run the country as the military-backed caretaker government had done for two years after 2006.

Three previous national elections were, however, held under caretaker governments in 1996, 2001 and 2008.

Earlier, in 1996 Sir Stephen Martin Ninian, on behalf of the commonwealth, spent 42 days to convince the two leaders to form an interim government system by drawing five politicians each from their respective parties, with then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia retaining her position, however, the proposal was rejected by then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.  

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