Appeals to government to withdraw cases against her party members to create a conducive atmosphere for the talks.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Khaleda Zia on Wednesday claimed the country had been ‘robbed of democracy’ and said it must be restored through a peaceful movement. Addressing a press conference, she vowed to continue the anti-government campaign and said she would mobilise the people against the ‘illegal’ and ‘dangerous’ government.

PTI adds:

Ms. Zia today asked her arch-rival and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to initiate fresh talks to end the political deadlock in Bangladesh, saying the January 5 general election boycotted by opposition parties has installed an “illegal” government.

The chief of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) asked the ruling Awami League to stop “harassing” her party leaders and workers.

The 68-year-old former premier also appealed to the government to withdraw cases against her party members to create a conducive atmosphere for the talks.

“We (BNP) were never opposed to talks and still now dialogue is the only way to end the deadlock,” Ms. Zia told a press conference in Dhaka.

The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance boycotted the general election, demanding a neutral caretaker regime to oversee the polls.

Mass rallies planned

Besides, Ms. Zia announced the opposition would stage mass rallies across Bangladesh on January 20 with the main one being at Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan. A nationwide black flag protest will also be organised on January 29.

She said she would travel across the country during the protest against the “illegal” government.

The new government, however, ruled out speculation that it could be short-lived to pave ways for fresh polls.

“Sheikh Hasina does not give in to any pressure whether it is internal or external. The country is ours...and in the interest of people we will do everything required,” the prime minister had said in her first comments after the swearing in on Sunday.

She, however, said the government could hold talks with the BNP only if it cuts ties with “anti-Bangladesh” Jamaat.