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Dhaka Tribune

Hasina 'ready' to talk to Khaleda

Update : 21 Oct 2013, 10:00 PM

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said she was ready to communicate with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to bring the opposition party to negotiation table, if necessary, to reach a consensus on polls-time government.

The ruling Awami League considers Khaleda’s proposal on such administration unacceptable and backward and said it would not accept any unconstitutional proposal.

The government would do its best to bring the opposition party to the forthcoming parliamentary polls, Hasina told her cabinet colleagues after a meeting. 

“If needed, I will communicate with Khaleda Zia and talk to her,” a senior minister who was present at the meeting quoted Hasina as saying.

Wishing anonymity, the minister told the Dhaka Tribune that the prime minister was determined to make any sacrifice for democracy and clarified her stance that the government wanted participation of all parties in the polls.

In her address to the nation on Friday, Hasina had proposed a structure of an all-party government to hold the polls and appealed to the opposition to give names of its lawmakers for the interim cabinet. She requested Khaleda to respond to her call positively.

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia on Tuesday gave a counter proposal for forming a 10-member caretaker government – five selected by the Awami League and five by the BNP from the advisers of 1996 and 2001 caretaker governments, which she said had been “widely considered neutral.”

However, senior Awami League leaders think there is no scope for discussing the “unacceptable” proposal.

The Awami League will convey its official reaction to Khaleda’s proposal today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam termed the BNP’s proposal “backward.”

“Khaleda Zia’s proposal was backward and did not hint at making any progress,” Ashraf was quoted by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant (media) Mahbubul Hoque Shakil as saying.

Ashraf said the opposition leader’s proposal reflected her personal rivalries whereas the prime minister had called for strengthening the country’s democracy.

Expressing her reaction to the Dhaka Tribune, Awami League Presidium member and Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said Khaleda’s proposal was an old formula in a new wrapping reflecting her unwillingness “to walk in the constitutional path.”

Soon after Khaleda’s press briefing, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahabub-Ul-Alam Hanif said the nature of the government in her proposal was no different from that of a caretaker one and “there is no scope for discussion on her proposal.”

Hanif told reporters at his Karwan Bazar office that talks were possible only on the prime minister’s proposal laid out in her address to the nation.

Meeting sources said Hasina had asked her party leaders not to give separate statements on a single issue.

“Give reactions to any issue, including Khaleda’s proposal, after discussing it in the party forum,” she said. 

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