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B'desh Govt begins pre-election talks with parties

world Updated: May 22, 2008 15:23 IST
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Facing pressure from donor countries, Bangladesh' military-backed interim government on Thursdayt kicked-off a formal dialogue with political parties ahead of elections it promised to hold in December.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who heads the government formed after imposition of emergency in January last year, led the five-member team in the talks with left-leaning Workers Party, an official spokesman said.

The dialogue was aimed at reaching a consensus on electoral reforms and creating a congenial election atmosphere scheduled for the third week of December this year, he said.

With US and European Union pressing the interim government to hold early elections, the government last week invited 19 parties for talks as part of the election roadmap.

The two main parties-- Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League-- are yet to submit their lists of delegates for talks and have pressed for release of their leaders languishing in jail under graft charges but the government expressed optimism about the success of the dialogue.

"I believe the dialogue will bring a good result for all," the chief adviser told reporters on Wednesday.

Syed Ashraful Islam, the acting general secretary of Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, said they would take a decision on taking part in the dialogue following a meeting of the party's central working committee to be held "soon".

The BNP-led four-party alliance was expected to meet for the first time since emergency was imposed last year to discuss the alliance's stance on the dialogue."The dialogue would be meaningless with our leader still detained," a party spokesman said.

While Hasina was arrested in July, BNP chief Khaleda Zia was put behind bars in September last year under the government's massive anti-graft drive that targeted top politicians of the two parties and businessmen.