US envoy meets Zia, calls for ending political deadlock

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 20:30

Dhaka: The US Ambassador on Tuesday called on parties in Bangladesh to eschew violence and immediately find a way to hold free and fair polls, as the envoy met BNP chief Khaleda Zia amid continued political impasse in the country.

US Ambassador Dan Mozena emphasised on political parties to engage in "serious dialogue" to find an "agreed" way to hold elections.

After nearly one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting with Zia at her residence, the ambassador expressed concern over the "recent wave of arrests" of opposition political leaders, BD News portal reported.

Mozena and Zia discussed the democratic process, the responsibility of the government to provide political space to the opposition so it can freely express its political views and the responsibility of the opposition to use this space peacefully.
The meeting comes a day after British High Commissioner Robert Gibson met Zia over an hour at her house.

The US Ambassador noted that Sunday`s incidents of violence at the Supreme Court, Press Club and Dhaka University were most disturbing as they were contrary to the democratic process and must not be allowed to recur.

Mozena reiterated US` call for all parties to eschew violence, saying it was not consistent with the democratic process and was unacceptable and hence must be stopped immediately.

He conveyed the US government`s concern at the recent wave of arrests of senior political leaders, given the intimidating effect this has on those who wish to peacefully exercise their democratic rights and whose participation is critical for the success of future dialogue between the two sides.

Mozena reached Khaleda`s residence amid heavy police cordon and did not interact with reporters when he came out of the meeting.

Several international bodies, including the UN and EU, along with the US, UK, India and China have pitched for a dialogue between the ruling Awami League and the BNP-led opposition.
The two alliances are at loggerheads over the form of polls-time government.

The opposition has rejected the January 5 polls schedule and enforced several spells of blockades and shutdowns to press for its demand for a non-party caretaker government.

Representatives of the Awami League and the BNP had talks on several occasions at the intervention of UN Secretary General`s special envoy. But the meetings failed to deliver any result.

The Awami League is going ahead with preparations to contest the parliamentary polls. The opposition, on the other hand, has called for non-stop blockades from tomorrow to foil the General Election.

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 20:30

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