UN-brokered talks continue in Bangladesh to end election crisis, no result in sight

UN-brokered talks continue in Bangladesh to end election crisis, no result in sight

DHAKA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco has extended his stay in Bangladesh by another day and deferred his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for Wednesday as he continued talks to end crisis over the next general elections.

The UN envoy Saturday launched his hectic mission to reconcile disputes between the country's two major political parties over polls-time government visibly as the last-ditch efforts to resolve the bloody conflict that left scores of people dead since January.

Two-time former minister Khaleda Zia has asked Hasina to bring back a non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

The UN envoy on political affairs heading a five-member delegation arrived in Dhaka on Friday night on a four-day visit to negotiate between the feuding parties for holding the polls with participation of all.

From Saturday morning, the UN emissary met a cross section of people here including top political leaders, civil society men and envoys of different countries in Bangladesh and expressed the hope that there is possibility of finding a peaceful solution to the deadlock.

A competent source close to Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party said the UN envoy has proposed holding the polls under the supervision of the UN and asked Hasina to step down from the post as head of the polls-time government, but she disagreed.

"We hope UN-brokered talks will ultimately yield a fruit," said a ruling party leader.

The leader, who preferred to be unnamed, said the secretaries of the ruling AL and the main opposition BNP sat across the table for a dialogue brokered by Taranco Tuesday evening in a secret place.

The meeting's outcome was still unknown. The UN envoy's press briefing, which was scheduled to be held at 5:30 p.m. local time, has been postponed.

The UN engaged itself in Bangladesh's election crisis as the country's political situation worsened in recent weeks due to rigid stance by both the ruling and the opposition over the formation of the polls-time government.

While the AL-led government proceeds with steps to hold the polls being in the power, the opposition BNP and its 17 allies demand a non-party caretaker government to oversee the polls slated for Jan. 5.

With the election less than a month away, Bangladesh's third largest party said it would also boycott the polls.

HM Ershad, chairman of Jatiya Party which was a key ally of Hasina's AL party-led ruling grand alliance until last month, said there exists no proper environment for polls.

Former military strongman Ershad, who ruled Bangladesh for nearly nine years from 1982 to 1990, cited the lack of proper atmosphere as the reason for not participating in the polls.

Bangladesh's main opposition Monday extended its 72-hour nationwide blockade to Friday morning.

The announcement of the ongoing blockade came hours before the end of its 131-hour non-stop blockade on Thursday evening.

Incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, chase and counter-chase, bomb explosions and detention were reported from many places in the country on Tuesday.

Analysts say Bangladesh as a leading contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission will likely suffer a big blow if its politicians fail to reach consensus in the UN-brokered talks.

Bangladesh plunged into a major political crisis in late 2006 and returned to democracy after two years of military rule following widely accepted parliament elections in 2008 under the caretaker government.