Dialogue without preconditions, Haas for political parties

The United States ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas, on Tuesday called political parties for dialogue without any preconditions to resolve ongoing crisis in the country.

He came up with the call while talking to reporters after holding a meeting with chief election commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal.

The US envoy’s remark came while the ruling Awami League and its allies are firm in their stand to hold the next general election under AL government and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its likeminded parties and alliances are on street programmes as they are firm in their stand that they would participate in the next general election under a non-party election-time government.

‘Political violence by any sides has no place in democratic elections,’ said Haas.

He said that he hoped that all sides can engage in dialogue without preconditions in order to deescalate prevailing tensions and find a pathway to free, fair and peaceful elections.

‘Any action that undermines the democratic elections process — including violence, preventing people from exercising their right to peaceful assembly and internet access — call into question the ability to conduct free and fair elections,’ the US ambassador added.

As the opposition political parties are now on street protests to press home their demand for election-time neutral government, the country’s streets witnessed violence that claimed lives and injured hundreds so far.

The opposition political parties have been claiming that their last phase of movement before the upcoming general election had begun on October 28, the day when the BNP organised a grand rally in Dhaka.

Dhaka witnessed widespread violence as leaders and activists of BNP clashed with members of the police and activists of ruling Awami League and the BNP had to stop their grand rally halfway.

The violence left two – a policeman and a Juba Dal activist – dead and over 1,000 injured. BNP called countywide hartal for the following day (October 29, 2023).

During hartal, three were killed and scores of people were injured at places in the country. Police on the day arrested BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and lodged cases against hundreds of senior BNP leaders in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

At the end of Hartal, the opposition parties called a three-day countrywide blockade that began Tuesday morning.

So far, two people were killed and scores injured in violence at places of the country on Tuesday, the first day of the blockade.