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Bangladesh's Interim Government in Crisis Talks With Political Leaders

  • VOA News
  • Stringers Dhaka

Members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party say they have "made progress" during crisis talks with the military-backed interim government on next month's parliamentary elections.

Advisers from the caretaker government held separate talks Tuesday with representatives from the BNP and its main rival, the Awami League.

The BNP's leader, Khaleda Zia, has threatened to boycott the elections unless the government lifts emergency rule immediately. She also wants the voting, scheduled for December 18th, to be pushed back.

The Awami League's leader, Sheikh Hasina, has said she wants to go ahead with the elections as planned.

Talks are expected to continue in the coming days.

The European Commission says it will send 150 monitors to observe the elections. The head of the commission's delegation to Bangladesh (Stefan Frowein) said he believes the military-backed interim government has created conditions for a "fair and credible" vote.

The European Union had said earlier it would not send election observers unless the state of emergency was lifted.

Earlier this month, the interim government relaxed provisions of emergency rule to allow limited campaigning. But it later reinforced a ban on street rallies and other campaign events.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January 2007, when the army intervened to stop political violence between supporters of the Awami League and the BNP -- Bangladesh's two main political parties.

The December 18th elections are part of the interim government's plan to restore democracy.

However our stringers from Dhaka say that the five government advisors'' lengthy meeting for two and a half hours with BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia on election issues on Tuesday evening ended inconclusive, Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman told waiting newsmen after the parley held at BNP''s Gulshan office a day after the ex-premier issued a 48-hour ultimatum. The outcome of the dialogue with Awami League Chief Sheikh Hasina was not clear either.

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