U.N. special envoy Oscar Fernandez-Taranco is optimistic of finding a solution to Bangladesh’s political impasse — if certain conditions are met.
Speaking to media for the first time since he landed here on Friday last, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco outlined four factors for achieving a breakthrough: “If we have a political will, if we have leadership, if we have an attitude of compromise, and, most importantly, if we are engaged in a peaceful dialogue.”
It was not clear what explained his optimism because he was not yet sharing with the media details of his discussions with political parties, the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader, the chief election commissioner and a section of the civil society as well as the Dhaka-based envoys of India, U.S. and Russia.
Transport blockade extended
But soon after the U.N. assistant secretary general expressed his optimism, the BNP-led alliance extended its 72-hour transport blockade by another 72 hours , stretching it to Friday morning.“We are extending our agitation because our demand for holding the polls under a non-political caretaker dispensation has not been met,” said BNP spokesperson Salahuddin Ahmed, in a video message sent to the media from an undisclosed location.
Upset with the BNP’s determination to persist with the violent agitation, the ruling Awami League, whose leaders have been reposing hope on Mr. Taranco’s Bangladesh mission so far , indicated they would go ahead with the parliament polls slated for Jan 5.
However, the possibility of an inclusive and peaceful elections suffered a further setback as the Jatiya Party, a key ally of the ruling Awami League until recently, announced it would stay away from the polls unless the Opposition parties joined the hustings.
Mr. Ershad said on Monday that the BNP may join the polls if Ms. Hasina steps down as Prime Minister. The ministers of his Jatiya Party who had joined the Sheikh Hasina-led “all party” interim government have handed over their resignations to Mr.Ershad who says they have been sent by post to the Prime Minister’s office. Mr.Ershad also wants a postponement of the election by at least ten days.
Postponement of polls
Mr. Taranco also explored the possibility of a postponement of the polls with the Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed during his second meeting with him in as many days.
The CEC said a marginal delay can be considered only if it ensures participation of the BNP and other Opposition parties – or else a postponement for the sake of it will not serve any purpose.