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EC dialogue awaits wrap-up PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 September 2008

One year on

Staff Correspondent

The Election Commission, one year after it began dialogue with political parties, has yet to complete the process although it was scheduled to wrap up by the end of November last year.

The commission began electoral talks with political parties on Sept 12 last year, inviting 17 parties to the first round of dialogue. According to the EC's roadmap, the talks were to conclude on Nov 29.
 
The 17 parties were: Awami League, BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Liberal Democratic Party, Islami Oikya Jote, Krishak Sramik Janata League, Ganotantri Party, Jatiya Party (Ershad), Jatiya Party (Manju), Jatiya Party (Naziur), Workers Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab), National Awami Party and Samyabadi Dal.
 
BNP was scheduled to sit with the EC on Nov 22. But their talks were postponed as a legal wrangle ensued after Khaleda Zia's lawyers went to court to challenge the EC's invitation to Hafizuddin Ahmed, known as a 'reformist faction' leader.
 
The EC eventually ended up holding dialogue with BNP leaders on April 27, but not with those seen as loyal to Khaleda. Chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda later apologised for sitting with the 'reformist faction'.
 
The EC met for a second time with 15 political parties from Feb 25-28.
 
After the Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 was passed on Aug 19, the EC held a third round of dialogue to discuss issues such as party registration. The parties were also anxious to bring the new RPO and the contentious matter of upazila polls to the table.
 
Although the EC invited Khaleda loyalists prior to her release, BNP and its allies skipped the latest round of talks from Sept 6-9 demanding release of the BNP chief ahead of any talks. The CEC said it would not end the dialogue without sitting with BNP.
 
Khaleda Zia, immediately after her release on Sep 13, said that her party would now join electoral dialogue and general elections planned for December.

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