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US urges Bangladesh parties to end political unrest

US urges Bangladesh parties to end political unrest

Dhaka: The US has urged the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League to get talks going to end political unrest in the South Asian country, media reported Tuesday.

The US embassy in Dhaka said in a statement that it was "more urgent than ever" for both major parties to assign their "trusted lieutenants" to undertake constructive dialogue to try for a breakthrough.

"We believe that with goodwill, the two parties can still find a way to have free, fair and credible elections that the Bangladeshi people want and deserve," US envoy Dan Mozena said. The statement was issued after Mozena spent a busy day meeting several ministers as the Opposition's nationwide blockade entered the fourth day Tuesday.

Mozena has also suggested the Bangladeshi politicians to fully use the upcoming visit of UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco to reach an agreement.

The BNP and its allies are calling tougher agitations like general strikes and blockades to push for a non-party polls-time government.
Nearly 40 people have been killed in the recent violence during the Opposition programmes across Bangladesh.

The Awami League recently constituted an "all-party" interim cabinet, which the BNP has rejected to join.

Candidates of total 15 political parties including Awami League and Jatiya Party have also submitted nomination papers.

But in a surprise development, Jatiya Party Chairman H.M. Ershad announced that his party will not contest the Jan 5 elections as a "proper environment" did not exist for the polls. His decision seemed to have put the ruling party in a tight spot.

However, Awami League leaders have been hinting that a dialogue might take place soon, but the BNP's acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir rejected any possibility of talks with the government Tuesday afternoon.

He directed the party supporters to be on the streets until non-party polls-time government demand was met. Only a day before, Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia had urged the government to reach an agreement.

Political analysts are fearing a violent feud between the rival parties over the general election, similar to the one they had in 2006-7.

Besides the US, Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Heather Cruden also said it was still possible to find a "negotiated solution".

However, the government has taken a stern position to put a stop to the violence. Several top opposition leaders were arrested and sued in several violence related cases.

The US slammed the political violence, reiterating that "violence is not acceptable and must stop immediately".

"The senseless violence of past days is especially reprehensible as it intentionally targeted innocent people with bombs and by burning them alive in vehicles."

"We believe all parties should have space to freely and peacefully express their views.

"The government bears responsibility to provide such space; the opposition parties bear responsibility to use such space in a peaceful manner," read the US statement.


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