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Govt, opposition parties fail to break poll deadlock

A sixth round of talks aimed at averting a boycott of January elections broke up with each side refusing to be drawn on the result.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 14:35 IST

A sixth round of talks between the Bangladesh government and Opposition aimed at averting a boycott of January elections broke up after just 20 minutes on Monday with each side refusing to be drawn on the result.

The secretary generals of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and main opposition Awami League left parliament without speaking to waiting media.

Opposition lawmaker Faruk Khan told the private television channel ATN Bangla that senior Awami League leaders would meet later Monday before commenting publicly.

Government officials were unavailable for comment.

The talks are aimed at breaking a deadlock between the government and the opposition, who say they will not participate in the polls unless the government finds another head of the interim administration that will oversee the elections.

The Awami League and its 13 leftist allies say that as a former government official the BNP's choice for the post, former Supreme Court chief justice KM Hasan, would be partisan.

Prospects for the talks appeared to fade over the weekend after the Awami League told its members to prepare for street protests.

"We have made hundreds of thousands of poles and oars to protest the government's power handover to KM Hasan," said Obaidul Qader, a senior Awami League leader.

"We have ordered every ward in the country to make the poles and oars so that we can protest as and when the government chooses justice Hasan as the head of the caretaker government."

The poles and oars will be used as symbols of protests in street demonstrations by the League, whose emblem is a rowing boat.

Under the provisions of Bangladesh's Constitution, an interim non-party government is due to take power on October 27 to oversee the elections, which should then be held within 90 days.

In addition to the replacement of KM Hasan, the opposition is demanding the sacking of the election commission chief and his two deputies, who it says are pro-government.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's BNP heads a four-party Islamist-allied government which had held power since October 2001.

First Published: Oct 23, 2006 14:06 IST