Fear of street fights as deadlock in Bangladesh persists
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Fear of street fights as deadlock in Bangladesh persists

With the Zia's Govt set to quit office, the media speculates a show of strength on the streets in the run up to the election in January.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2006 13:51 IST

With just a fortnight left for Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government to quit office and a deadlock persisting in the dialogue between the government and the Opposition, the media here is speculating a likely "show of strength on the streets" in the run up to the general election in January.

Though representatives of the two main parties, the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the opposition Awami League (AL), have met a few times, their talks have not made any headway for want of a consensus between their leaderships on who will head the caretaker government.

This has been admitted by both BNP's Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and AL's Abdul Jalil, according to New Age daily Friday.

Among the main players, Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina has left for Britain and the US and Jalil, who was conducting the talks, left for Singapore, the paper said.

The next round of talks is likely on October 16.

"Why should we (two secretaries) take the responsibility if the dialogue fails - as none of us enjoy the liberty to reach a decision on the contentious issues,' Bhuiyan, also a minister in the Zia government, was quoted as telling his cabinet colleagues after the fourth round of the dialogue on October 10.

"How can I reach a quick understanding...I need something concrete out of the dialogue process as I have accountability to my leader too," Jalil was quoted by a secretary of the AL central working committee as saying.

The talks, even if they resume, are likely to stretch to the month-end, according to The Daily Star newspaper, speculating that by that time both sides would have prepared for the "show of strength on the streets".

The Zia government has to quit on October 28, three months before the parliamentary polls as per the constitutional requirement so that a caretaker government can be put in place to run the country.

There might be "street face-off" after the government hands over power to the caretaker set-up, the Star said.

Meanwhile, AL acting general secretary Obaidul Quader said: "The agitation in the streets will continue along with the dialogue. We have no alternative but to take to the streets to press home our demands if the talks fail to break the deadlock.

"The possibility of resolving the political impasse through the dialogue is thinning gradually as the prime minister has launched a countrywide campaign against the reform proposals," he told the Star on Thursday, apparently expressing doubts over the success of the dialogue that began on October 5.

The deadlock is over the caretaker who would form the interim government and conduct the polls in January.

Zia wants to nominate Justice KM Hasan, but the Opposition says he was earlier a BNP functionary and hence cannot be trusted to be neutral.

Bangladesh's Supreme Court Bar Association, dominated by the pro-opposition lawyers, Thursday passed a resolution urging Justice Hasan to "express his inability" and opt out of the appointment.

The AL and the 14-party opposition alliance it leads have dug in against Hasan's appointment and have reportedly suggested the name of another retired judge Mahmudul Amin Choudhury.

Reports indicate that the BNP insists on Hasan, even though the AL has shown readiness to drop its other demand for the replacement of Chief Election Commissioner MA Aziz.

First Published: Oct 13, 2006 13:51 IST