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Solution to Bangladesh deadlock still possible: UN envoy

PTI | Last Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 19:11

Dhaka: Bangladesh can end the current political deadlock on impending national elections if the feuding parties are willing to compromise in the face of continuing violence, a senior UN envoy today said.

"I do believe that there is possibility of a peaceful solution to this current deadlock," UN assistant secretary general Oscar Fernandez Taranco, a special emissary of UN chief Ban-Ki-moon, said in his first comments since his arrival here four days ago for talks with top Bangladeshi leaders to defuse the crisis.

Taranco held a second round of meetings with the election commission and is set to return to UN headquarters tomorrow wrapping up his hectic five-day tour.

He however added, a settlement was possible, "If we have the political will, if we have good leadership, if we have an attitude to compromise and most importantly if we are able to engage in a peaceful dialogue".

BNP-led opposition alliance extended their 72-hour nationwide blockade until Friday while it was supposed to end tomorrow morning.

The continued blockade has sparked clashes between security forces and opposition activists that have left 67 people dead and hundreds injured since October.

The six-member UN mission led by Taranco earlier met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia and held several rounds of talks with their party stalwarts alongside the election commission seeking to defer the polls scheduled for January 5 to pave the way for a dialogue between the two bitter rivals.

Ban also took fresh initiatives to end the deadlock after his previous efforts yielded little result as he wrote to Hasina and Zia last month, weeks after he spoke to them.

The BNP-led alliance is demanding installation of a poll-time `non-party` government with an "acceptable person" as its head saying polls under the Hasina-led Awami League government would not be credible.

The government rejected the demand as "unconstitutional" while Hasina asked the opposition to join the `all-party` election cabinet offering any portfolio they wanted and alleged BNP was evading the polls sensing their defeat.

Amidst the uncertainty and violence, Taranco also met Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran yesterday while Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh also visited Dhaka recently and extended India`s support for continued democratic process in Bangladesh and the upcoming elections.

First Published: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 19:11

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