UN envoy brokers meeting between Bangladesh`s rival parties
Senior leaders of Bangladesh`s two major feuding parties today began a dialogue aimed at ending a political deadlock over upcoming general elections even as a visiting UN special envoy extended his mission by a day.
Dhaka: Senior leaders of Bangladesh`s two major feuding parties today began a dialogue aimed at ending a political deadlock over upcoming general elections even as a visiting UN special envoy extended his mission by a day.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco extended his visit amid speculation of "behind the scenes developments" at a meeting between Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam that was brokered by him.
"Today represents an important moment in the current context (as) at the invitation of the UN Secretary General, representatives of both parties have met and engaged in dialogue," Taranco said during a brief interaction with media.
"I want to take the opportunity to applaud their decision to sit down and seize the opportunity."
The special emissary of UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon said both parties had agreed to continue the dialogue "in the spirit of goodwill and compromise, and to work constructively together to decrease tensions and build confidence".
"This shows political leadership, responsibility and courage and it is also an answer to the expectations of the people of Bangladesh," Taranco said.
Taranco was set to fly back to UN headquarters this evening after a five-day visit, during which he met Awami League and BNP leaders in a bid to break the impasse over the January 5 polls.
Without elaborating, his spokesman said Taranco had also deferred a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He instead met her archrival and BNP chief Khaleda Zia under a revised schedule.
News channels reported the Awami League and BNP leaders held an unscheduled meeting at the residence of a UN diplomat in Taranco`s presence.
Both parties did not comment but a UN official said on condition of anonymity that Taranco decided to stay back for more talks with major stakeholders as he expected his mission could yield a "positive result".
The Awami League has formed a multi-party interim government to conduct the polls. The BNP-led opposition alliance has rejected the formation of a non-party caretaker set-up, saying polls under Hasina`s watch will not be free and fair.