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EC talks raise hope for BNP reconciliation PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 April 2008

Agency

BNP pro-reform faction leaders, led by Hafizuddin Ahmed, meet with election commissioners at the EC Secretariat Thursday. Leaders of opposing BNP factions Thursday said the party would reconcile soon and take part in dialogue with the Election Commission and the government together.

Full Story The remarks came after their talks with the Election Commission Thursday in separate meetings. After the talks, Mahbubur Rahman, a leader of the Saifur-led faction, said: "There is no division in the BNP.

We will pursue politics jointly, participate in the election and go for dialogue with the Election Commission and the government." Chowdhury Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui, who led the Khandaker Delwar Hossain-led faction to the talks, said: "BNP is preparing for the polls.

A united BNP will contest the next polls." The Election Commission held separate talks with two groups of BNP leaders, led by disputed secretary general Hafizuddin Ahmed and standing committee member Tanvir Ahmed respectively.

The EC held an hour-long meeting from 10.30am with the group led by Hafizuddin at the EC secretariat, while the second group began its meeting just after midday.

Hafizuddin, standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman, Khaleda Zia's adviser Mofazzel Karim and former MP Fazlul Azim met chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda and election commissioners Muhammed Sohul Hussain and M Sakhawat Hussain.

The group representing the Delwar faction included Khaleda Zia's adviser ASM Hannan Shah, joint secretaries general Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, Nazrul Islam Khan and Selima Rahman and organising secretary Md Shahjahan among others. Khandaker Delwar Hossain stayed away from Thursday's talks as he was not addressed as secretary general in the invitation letter by the EC.

The group led by Hafizuddin asked the EC to announce the election schedule as early as possible to implement the election roadmap, a leader said. After the talks, Mahbubur Rahman told reporters: "The discussion was fruitful, even though it was seen as a courtesy call." There had been no specific agenda at the meeting, he said.

"But we urged the EC to announce the election schedule as soon as possible." The BNP leader said that his group had confidence in the EC.

"The role of the Election Commission is important in democracy. It is working for a free and fair election." Asked who had raised the question of party unity at Thursday's talks, Mahbubur said that both the EC and his group had addressed it.

"The Election Commission told us to sit for dialogue together," he said. The other three leaders attending the talks left the EC secretariat building as soon as the meeting was over due to some agitation between supporters of the two factions.

ASM Hannan Shah, adviser of the detained BNP chief, told reporters: "We assured the Election Commission that the BNP factions would unite in 72 hours from the invitation and join EC talks together." Hannan Shah said they would sit with EC, together with the other faction, if the EC invited Delwar to dialogue on reforms.

Chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda told reporters that both factions told them that they did not want to stay divided any longer.

"They want to see a united BNP. We asked them to inform the EC after being united in two days or three. We, too, want to see the BNP united." Huda said the EC would take its decision if the BNP factions failed to be united in the stipulated period.

"We can't wait," he said. In its letter, the EC described Delwar and Hafizuddin only as 'BNP leaders', but did not address them as secretaries general, acting or otherwise, BNP spokespersons said.

The talks were meant to find ways to ease the political deadlock over the EC's planned dialogue with the BNP factions, which has so far stalled the process of finalising electoral reform laws. The EC had earlier wrapped up two rounds of talks with the political parties except for the BNP

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