US asks Hasina, Zia to end deadlock over electoral system

Last Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 22:46

Dhaka: In an unusual move, the US on Monday appealed to Bangladesh`s `Battling Begums` - Premier Sheikh Hasina and her archrival BNP supremo Khaleda Zia - to end a political deadlock over the country`s electoral system through "constructive dialogue" ahead of the general election.
"The US along with international community is concerned about the political situation in Bangladesh," a US Embassy spokeswoman quoted Secretary of State John Kerry as saying in letters sent to Hasina and Zia.

Kerry "encouraged them to engage in constructive dialogue to find a way forward towards free, fair and credible elections", the spokeswoman said.

The letters were delivered to the two leaders by US Ambassador Dan Mozena.

Political sources said Kerry stressed the need for an immediate understanding through talks without any further delay as important for an acceptable elections with all parties participating.

Kerry`s letters came two weeks after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called up Hasina and Zia in a bid to end the stalemate over the upcoming elections while the global body earlier warned the two parties about military interventions unless they could reach a consensus.

The appeals came as Hasina`s Awami League and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party visibly remained stubborn on their stance over the electoral system while the general election is scheduled to be held in January next year.

BNP is demanding restoration of a now scraped non-party caretaker government system for election oversight while the Lrague suggested the poll time administration would comprise elected representatives of major parties with the incumbent premier at the helm.

No official reaction of the ruling party was available immediately on Kerry`s letter but BNP`s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said his party welcomed the US proposal and "we are ready to sit for a constructive dialogue".

Hasina last month in a strongly worded speech dismissed possibilities of accepting opposition demands, saying she won`t budge an inch on the constitutional provision while Zia vowed to realize the demand through massive street campaign.

Awami League had scrapped the caretaker system amending the constitution two years ago in line with a Supreme Court judgment.

PTI



First Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 22:46

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