Opposition alliance Jatiya Oikyafront yesterday requested the Election Commission not to announce the polls schedule until the dialogues between the ruling and opposition parties are over.
Dr Kamal Hossain, a top leader of the Oikyafront, made the call in a letter to the chief election commissioner, a day before the EC is scheduled to hold a meeting to finalise the polls schedule.
The letter also expressed the Oikyafront's readiness to hold further talks with the government, asking the EC to wait until such time.
In an attempt to secure a second round of talks, the Oikyafront also decided to write again to the prime minister today.
“We will send a letter to the prime minister tomorrow morning [this morning], requesting her to hold a small-scale dialogue with us,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said after emerging from a meeting at Kamal's chamber in the capital's Motijheel.
However, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has ruled out the possibility of holding talks with political parties after November 7.
“We would not hold any talks after November 7. It would not be possible to hold dialogues for long as the election schedule will have been announced by then,” Quader told reporters at Dhanmondi 32 yesterday.
As many as 85 political parties wrote to the prime minister seeking time to hold talks about the 11th parliamentary election, he said, adding that it may not be possible to sit with all the parties.
EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said Oikyafront's letter would be placed at the Commission meeting today.
“We are hopeful about announcing the election schedule within this week. The Election Commission wants to hold the election by December,” he told reporters after a meeting on polls preparation at the Nirbachon Bhaban.
CEC KM Nurul Huda, the four other election commissioners and high officials of the EC were present at the meeting.
The ongoing talks with political parties began after Kamal, also president of the Gonoforum, wrote to the PM for holding a dialogue, to which the PM responded positively. Later, other political parties began requesting the PM to sit with them as well.
So far, the 14-party ruling alliance sat with the Oikyafront, which includes the BNP and several other parties; and the Juktafront, led by former president Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury.
The ruling alliance leaders will sit for talks among themselves at the Gono Bhaban tonight, while they will hold talks with the Jatiya Party tomorrow at the same venue.
The 14-party will also sit with Islamist and leftist parties, Quader said.
After the much-hyped dialogue with the Oikyafront on November 1, Quader had assured the opposition alliance of holding further talks to find a solution to the political crisis over the upcoming national election.
At the talks, the Oikyafront had placed a seven-point demand, including formation of a polls-time government, dissolution of parliament before the announcement of the election schedule, reconstitution of the Election Commission and deployment of army during election with magistracy power.
Although the talks were held in a congenial atmosphere, the PM gave no assurance that the government would meet Oikyafront's demands except for the one for holding rallies without police obstruction.
Asked about BNP's dissatisfaction at the outcome, Quader yesterday said, “It is not possible to make everyone happy. The BNP may have expressed dissatisfaction, but the leader of their alliance [Dr Kamal] has termed it fruitful.”
Meanwhile, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna blasted the government for its decision to hold talks with the components of the 14-party.
“They are your advisers. You talk to them daily. They are the opposition leaders. You meet them at parliament and talk with them outside parliament. Then why do you need to hold dialogues with them?” said Manna, also a leader of the Oikyafront.
In another development, Mirza Fakhrul has been made spokesperson of the Oikyafront while Gonoforum General Secretary Mustafa Mohsin Montu its coordinator.
LETTER TO CEC
Rafiqul Islam Pathik, Gonoforum training affairs secretary, handed the letter to an EC official at the Commission around 4:45pm.
The CEC and other election commissioners were holding a closed-door meeting at the time.
In the letter, Kamal Hossain mentioned Obaidul Quader's remarks that the PM would consider sitting with the Oikyafront again after November 8.
“The Jatiya Oikyafront is willing to sit for talks with the honourable prime minister again.”
It added: “You [EC] are aware of the dialogue with the prime minister…. Under the circumstances, we think it is better for you not to make the decision about the announcement of the election schedule until the ongoing political process, especially the talks with the prime minister, is over.”
The eminent jurist also noted that political parties and candidates were key stakeholders in any election and that it was a fundamental responsibility of the EC to take their activities into consideration.
“We firmly believe that the trust of the political parties and the people on the Election Commission will increase if the Election Commission waits a little more before announcing the election schedule,” it added.