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President may initiate fresh dialogue

Thursday December 14 2006 09:30:36 AM BDT

President and Chief Adviser Prof Dr Iajuddin Ahmed yesterday dropped a broad hint that he would again initiate dialogue with political parties soon to resolve the remaining political problems.The President dropped the hint (New Nation)

during his discussion with US Ambassador Patricia A Butenis, who called on him yesterday afternoon.

Patricia A Butenis, during the 30-minute meeting, discussed with President Prof Dr Iajuddin Ahmed issues concerning next month's general election and reiterated the US position for non-violent, free, fair and credible polls.

During the meeting, both the President and Chief Adviser and the US Ambassador agreed that another round of talks between the major political parties would help resolve the political impasse, a Bangabhaban Spokesman said after the meeting.

The President and Chief Adviser assured the Ambassador that the Council of Advisers would take specific steps in this regard at its meeting yesterday evening.

Besides, he would request Commissioner Mudabbir Hossain Chowdhury to go on leave to remove the complicity centring the Election Commission, if necessary. The President expressed the hope that the other Commissioner (SM Zakaria) would go on leave if the two major political parties request him to do so. The President and Chief Adviser informed the Ambassador of the steps taken so far and were underway to hold free and fair elections in the country.

"With the steps already taken by the caretaker government a congenial election atmosphere has already been created in the country," President's Adviser M Mokhlesur Rahman Chowdhury quoted the President as telling Ambassador Butenis. Mokhles Chowdhury was briefing journalists after the envoy's meeting with the President at the Bangabhaban.

He quoted the US Ambassador as telling the President, "The United States would continue to support the caretaker government for holding a free and fair election for continuity of the constitutional and democratic process."

The President, he said, told the Ambassador that all the major demands of the parties in movement had already been fulfilled while a meeting of the Council of Advisers yesterday would take initiatives on the issue of rest of the demands.

He said during the meeting the US envoy, however, put stress on two issues -the deployment of Army troops and resignation of four advisers-saying, "we will monitor if the Armed Forces were discharging their responsibilities neutrally."

Later talking to newsmen at Bangabhaban gate, Ambassdor Patricia Butenis said, she had told the President that the resignation of the four advisers was "unfortunate, as they were honourable personalities and patriots".

She said the President agreed with her but said the four new advisers also were firmly committed to working 'following the footsteps' of their predecessors.

Mokhles Chowdhury said the President told the envoy that the Armed Forces were called out in aid of the civil administration to ensure a peaceful atmosphere during the polls as "it was done in the past" and "I have already ordered them to discharge their duties neutrally".

"The Armed Forces will discharge their duties neutrally as they did in the past," he quoted the President as telling the envoy.

According to the President's Adviser, the US Ambassador agreed with the President that the political parties have now come to a close proximity in resolving the crisis narrowing down their differences and on the election issue.

President Iajuddin and Butenis, he said, expected the political parties would resolve their disputes on the "remaining small issues" with their wisdom, farsightedness and patriotism.

She said she felt more assured after the meeting that the coming election would be staged in a free and fair manner.

Ambassador Butenis, Chowdhury said, told the President that the demands of some political parties for the resignation of President Iajuddin from the post of the Chief Adviser of the interim government was "impractical".

"I have told them (political parties) their demands are impractical," he quoted the US envoy as telling the President.

Patricia A Butenis, however, would not say anything on this issue while talking to the reporters.


New Nation

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