President should intervene
The civil society organisation Shushashoner Jannoy Nagorik (SHUJAN) yesterday urged President Abdul Hamid to intervene if the political parties fail to hold a dialogue and end the current standoff by themselves.
"We request Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to sit and talk. The prime minister should make the first move," it said in a statement. "We hope our leaders will...talk and reach a consensus for sustainable solutions...in the greater interest of the country."
The statement presented at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity said as head of the state, the president had "superior responsibility", and he would show "due sagacity and courage", if necessary, to break the impasse by making talks happen.
SHUJAN'S call came while the BNP-led indefinite countrywide blockade has been under way since January 6, a day after the party was denied permission to demonstrate against the last year's one-sided national vote through which the Awami League won a second consecutive term.
Khaleda has been also confined to her Gulshan office by law enforcers since January 3.
Reading out the statement, SHUJAN Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar criticised the government for limiting the political space of the BNP, and condemned its "unwarranted meddling" in media.
At the same time, he demanded punishment for the people perpetuating violence and killing general people and damaging public properties.
The January 5 elections saw 153 out of the 300 members of parliament elected uncontested, and the BNP which boycotted it called it "the day democracy was annihilated".
Khaleda Zia announced the blockade demanding a fresh general election under a non-party administration.
In the run-up to that controversial election, a period of widespread violence leading to scores of civilian deaths, SHUJAN and other civil society organisations had repeatedly called for political dialogue, to no avail.
SHUJAN reiterated that the last year's vote was "one-sided" and called for a fresh, inclusive parliamentary election within the shortest possible time.
Speaking on the occasion, local government expert Tofail Ahmed, also an executive member of SHUJAN, called upon people to break the silence and raise voice collectively to solve the crisis.
"Whenever a one-person rule prevails in a country, it paves the way for the rise of militancy and terrorism. We don't want to see that in Bangladesh," he viewed.