A panel of advisers has started working on modalities of the much-awaited dialogues between the military-controlled interim government and political parties for transition to democracy by holding of parliamentary elections in December.
The four-member panel of advisers held informal talks with the Awami League, one of the major political parties, on Monday evening and is expected to sit with others to seek ‘support for formal talks to take place shortly’, according to a meeting source.
The government will send formal proposals to the parties in this regard in a day or two.
Earlier on the day, the panel headed by communications adviser Ghulam Quader reviewed the situation and discussed possible agendas, dates and venues to start the dialogues, the process for which, the policymakers said, was in progress.
‘The matter related to the dialogues was in progress’, the law, justice and parliamentary affairs adviser to the interim administration, AF Hassan Ariff, told a group of reporters after the informal meeting held at the communications ministry.
About the details of their discussion, the adviser said, ‘You will know about it in due course of time.’
Communications adviser Ghulam Quader, commerce adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman and local government, rural development and cooperatives adviser Anwarul Iqbal attended the meeting that lasted nearly two hours.
The same team, tasked with preparatory work for the dialogue, met four Awami League leaders – Tofail Ahmed, Matia Chowdhury, Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Hasan Mahmud – at the Railway Bhaban in the capital.
The advisers informed the AL leaders that the government would sit with the political parties formally in a day or two to discuss the preparations for a fruitful dialogue.
‘We have had informal discussion on the proposed dialogues,’ a source present at the meeting said.
The advisers told the AL leaders that formal talks with the political parties would start in a day or two, the source said adding that the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, was expected to announce the modalities and dates for the talks in an address to the nation.
An AL leader said that the advisers also assured them that the dialogues would be unconditional.
Holding of a fair and participatory election, giving legitimacy to the work done by the interim administration and power handover to an elected government would be at the centre of discussions with the parties, according to sources in the administration.
Besides, lifting of emergency and ban on political activities across the country, restoration of civil and political rights, announcement of polls date, balance of power between the prime minister and the president, and food prices would also feature at the discussions, they said.
The government has been pondering over how quickly it could hold the dialogues as nearly three months have already elapsed since the chief adviser announced that the government would open dialogues with the parties ‘soon’.
He had made the announcement on January 12 on the occasion of the first anniversary of government, which was born through a state of emergency in January, 2007 following political turmoil.
Asked about next major programmes of the chief adviser, his official spokesman told E-Bangladesh that holding of the planned dialogues would be the next major task.
‘Definitely the dialogue is the major programme of the chief adviser, but the time, venue and method of the talks is yet to be finalised,’ Syed Fahim Munaim, the press secretary to the chief adviser said.
When his attention was drawn to media speculations that the chief adviser might make an announcement on the dialogues in a televised address to the nation on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla calendar, the spokesman said that he was not aware of it.
The dialogue will take place this month, he said.
Sources in the administration said that the panel of advisers tasked with preparation for the dialogue would shortly place their suggestions before the chief adviser and other authorities concerned. A final decision will be made by the chief adviser.
The dialogues with the parties will take place at a time when the government was struggling to tackle the soaring food prices that made the commoners’ life miserable and major political parties were gearing up for movement to press for release of two detained former prime ministers – Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.
Earlier on March 25, communications adviser Ghulam Quader said that the agenda for the proposed dialogues between the interim administration and political parties would be fixed in consultation with the parties concerned.