Govt wants Khaleda to respond

The government wants BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia herself respond to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation for talks.

If the BNP agrees, an official invitation for the dialogue will be sent in the next few days, Awami League spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam said on Thursday.

The LGRD Minister’s remarks came after Hasina earlier in the day invited the opposition chief for talks to end the political impasse.

Reacting to Hasina’s call, BNP leader Shamsuzzaman Dudu, who has been discharging the duties of BNP spokesperson in recent times, told reporters, “The dialogue can happen if a written proposal comes after our demand for the next national election to be held under a non-partisan government is met.”

Regarding his demand, Ashraf on Thursday evening said, “The man you are talking about does not have the authority to say this. Importance will be given to the words depending on who said those.”

“The Prime Minister invited the Leader of the Opposition. I hope the opposition chief herself will respond,” he added.

Dudu, an advisor to the BNP chief, briefs the press and announces programmes after the top leaders of the BNP including Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were detained in jail in several cases.

Ashraf told reporters, “The Prime Minister has invited (Khaleda) today. We are eagerly waiting when they will agree. We will contact them by tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

Many fear a major political clash because of the conflicting stance of Awami League and BNP over the nature of the government during the next parliamentary elections.

The BNP-led 18-Party alliance has been in the streets ever since the Awami League-led administration annulled the interim caretaker government provision through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in June, 2011.

The opposition says that an election under the ruling party’s dispensation cannot be free and fair.

Despite the ruling party’s call that it is ready for dialogues, the main opposition, however, has been saying it would not take part in talks unless the government first concedes its demand for a non-partisan poll-time government.

Hasina’s call on Thursday comes with the hint at ending the political standoff even though she has not given any indication of backing off from her party’s stance of a firm ‘no’ to the caretaker system.

Regarding the outcome of the dialogue between the heads of the two major parties, Ashraf said, “Dialogue can be of different types. Official or unofficial. Discussion can take place in many ways. I hope we will be able to reach an understanding on all the issues regarding the next election through discussion.”

He also hinted that the dialogue might take place in high level of the both parties and hoped the talks would not be time-consuming.

The LGRD Minister was talking to reporters after inaugurating the new Guest House at the Officers Club in the capital, Dhaka.

He also said the government was not ‘worried’ about the Chittagong-based radical organisation Hifazat-e Islam’s Dhaka siege programme scheduled for May 5.

“The opposition leader has also understood that Hifazat and fundamentalist organisations are a threat to democratic system,” he said.

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