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Foreign envoys continue parleys on Bangladesh polls

The foreign diplomats say they are closely monitoring the situation in Dhaka since the taking over of economist Fakhruddin Ahmed.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 11:39 IST

Top foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka have been passing busy hours meeting with top Bangladesh officials and parties concerned on the prospects of holding of the country's ninth parliamentary elections in shortest possible time.

They said that they were closely monitoring the situation since the taking over of economist Fakhruddin Ahmed on January 12 and scrapping of the previous election schedules under the provisions of a state of emergency pronounced by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

The government, widely believed to be backed by army, said it was working on fixing timeframe to implement a set of agenda before holding the polls.

The timeframe is likely to be announced sometime next week.

Meeting with the advisers to the interim administration, the diplomats, who have already hailed the new government, expressed that they would extend possible support in its efforts to create an atmosphere conducive for the election.

Rival political camps led by the immediate past ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the opposition Awami League have asked the government to arrange elections as soon as possible.

The US Ambassador in Dhaka, Patricia A Butenis, told reporters after a meeting with the foreign affairs adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury that the interim government's focus should be to deliver an acceptable election.

Butenis observed that the agenda taken up by the government was encouraging so far, but some of them would require longer time.

She said the caretaker government has to continue focusing on holding a free and fair election.

"Bangladesh has a proud tradition of democracy and no one wants to see that tradition interrupted or in any way damaged," she said.

Butenis added that her government was counting on this government to create conditions for fair polls.

Butenis also met with the health adviser, ASM Matiur Rahman, and the agriculture adviser CS Karim at their respective offices.

The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury, assured Bangladesh of continuing Britain's support for reforms and infrastructure development.

He gave this assurance at a meeting with the local government, rural development and cooperatives adviser, M Anwarul Iqbal, at the latter's office.

They discussed the matters of mutual interest, poverty alleviation in Bangladesh, urban healthcare projects, water supply and sanitation programmes.

The Japanese Ambassador, Masayuki Inoue, assured that his country would extend all possible support to Bangladesh in holding an acceptable election.

He gave this assurance at a meeting with the health adviser Matiur. The adviser said the caretaker government was working hard towards a credible election.

The European Union expressed optimism that the government would be able to arrange the election in shortest possible time.

The EU ambassador, after a meeting with the foreign affairs adviser, said that they were closely monitoring the Bangladesh's situation.

The EU has said that its election monitoring mission, which was suspended a day before the president declared a state of emergency on January 11, will resume their mission sometime next month despite the government was yet to make any announcement for election schedule.

The head of the South Asian Department at EU, Helen Campbell, also met with Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the EU also had meeting with the leaders of the country's apex business body, Bangladesh Federation of Chambers and Commerce and Industries.

The delegation chief, Helen Campbell, said they were still ascertaining what sorts of support Bangladesh might need to conduct a credible election.

"By end of this month, the EU may become able to point out what sorts of supports it can offer to Bangladesh authority," said Helen.

The FBCCI president, Nasir Hossain, stressed the need for a credible election for a sustainable democracy and economic stability.

First Published: Jan 25, 2007 11:39 IST