Tofail rules out talks with BNP

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2014-01-22 21:05:22 BdST


Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed has ruled out any possibility of talks with the BNP to pave the way for a fresh election in Bangladesh.

"We are not talking about any dialogue. Rather, it is the foreigners who are talking about this," he said.

Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, who is also the LGRD Minister, had on Tuesday said BNP chief Khaleda Zia would not be able to gain power by lobbying with foreign countries.

The Awami League, for the second time in a row, has come to power with a clear three-fourth majority in the parliamentary elections held on Jan 5.

"A government is elected for five years; so, this government will remain in power for five years," said Tofail Ahmed, the Commerce Minister of the new government.

Tofail was speaking to reporters after a meeting with EU Ambassador William Hanna at the Secretariat.

Khaleda had on Monday urged the government to take initiatives to start a dialogue in order to hold fresh elections.

The BNP and its allies had boycotted the Jan 5 election, claiming it would be rigged if held under the ruling Awami League.

They had demanded a caretaker government to oversee the election.

They also demanded the Election Commission announce a fresh poll schedule but the commission rejected it saying they were bound to abide by the Constitution.

After the polls, Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina, now the Prime Minister, said a mid-term election could be held if the BNP left the company of the Jamaat-e-Islami and shunned violence.

Though the BNP has stopped calling general strikes and blockades, Khaleda, however, said in an interview that she sought no advice on her ties with Jamaat.

The EU, the US and the UK have been pressing for talks between the two main parties to prepare the ground for fresh election with the participation of all political parties.

After the meeting with EU Ambassador Hanna at the Secretariat, Tofail also said there was no foreign pressure on the government.

"Foreign diplomats are backing and congratulating the government. And so are various countries. The government will not be under any pressure in the next five years, too."

Before the EU Mission chief, British High Commissioner Robert Gibson met the minister at the Secretariat. Tofail said Gibson also assured him of continuing his government's help for Bangladesh.

About the meeting with Hanna, he said, "The European Union is our biggest market. We have many trade contracts with them."

“We have discussed how we can increase and accelerate the contracts. They have also accepted our elections."

The GSP status for Bangladesh, he hoped, will continue in the European market.