Political parties must join hands to end deadlock: UN | india | Hindustan Times
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Political parties must join hands to end deadlock: UN

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 15:21 IST
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An envoy of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday that all political parties "should come together" to end the political deadlock in Bangladesh over elections slated for January.

"The situation is worrying," Craig Jenness, director of the UN Electoral Assistance Division, told reporters at a news briefing in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.

"I believe ... differences can only be resolved through dialogue."

The political discord and the accompanying violence are harming the economy, increasing tensions and threatening the chances for a credible vote, he said.

Jenness arrived in Bangladesh on Wednesday on a three-day visit to underscore support for free and fair elections in the South Asian nation that has endured street protests by a major political alliance led by Sheikh Hasina, the chief of the Awami League and former prime minister.

The envoy met interim President Iajuddin Ahmed, top bureaucrats, political leaders, election officials, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organisations to discuss the importance of a credible election.

"I found general agreement on the need for peaceful, credible and transparent elections, and the importance of avoiding violence at all costs," he said.

The alliance has been demanding Ahmed's resignation from his post as chief of a caretaker government responsible for running the country through to the January 21 elections.

It has also demanded the removal of five election commissioners, accusing them of bias toward former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who handed over power to the interim government on October 29 after her five-year term expired.

The interim government has 90 days to hold the new elections, under the Constitution.

The alliance accused Ahmed -- titular president during Zia's five-year term -- of failing to prove that he would remain neutral through the polls to elect a new parliament.

Violence has erupted over the past few weeks, and the alliance has recently threatened to embark on another series of transport blockades across the impoverished nation this weekend to force the administration to meet its demands.

It has also rejected the election schedule announced by the Election Commission.

Bangladesh has a history of political violence. The nation has witnessed two presidents slain in military coups and 19 other failed coup attempts since it gained independence from Pakistan in 1971.

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