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Hasina to UN: polls can be deferred

Dhaka, Dec. 7 (PTI): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed today told a UN envoy that Bangladesh’s polls could be deferred to accommodate the demands of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has decided not to participate in the January 5 general election.

Hasina’s media adviser, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, said the Prime Minister told UN assistant secretary-general, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, that the independent Election Commission could defer the poll schedule to accommodate the BNP.

Fernandez-Taranco, who is on a mission to end the political turmoil triggered by a standoff between the Awami League and the BNP over the election, sought revision of the poll schedule for talks to be held. “But whatever the Election Commission does, they must do it within the constitutional framework,” Hasina was quoted as saying by Chowdhury.

When Fernandez-Taranco referred to Opposition concerns about “a level playing field”, Hasina said the Election Commission was constituted in consultation with the BNP and had conducted several local polls that were “never questioned by the Opposition”. The envoy said the UN wants a democratic process through peaceful polls.

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