No time, conducive environment for meaningful dialogue, AL tells US

Obaidul Quader (L) and Donald Lu

The ruling Awami League has formally declined the United States' call for a meaningful dialogue among key political parties here before the forthcoming national parliamentary elections, citing lack of time and conducive environment in the current reality.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader sent a letter to US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Donald Lu on Friday. The latter recently wrote to the Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Jatiya Party, with the same call to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

In his letter, Quader noted that the political parties are passing busy days with election-related activities, leaving no time for a dialogue at the moment. 

Mohammad Ali Arafat, a central committee member of Awami League, handed over the letter to Arturo Hines, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Dhaka, Friday afternoon. 

The letter highlighted that the BNP and its ally, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, are currently holding back-to-back blockade programmes, demanding the government's resignation. They are carrying out different activities, including arson, to make their programmes successful. The Fire Service and Civil Defence said the blockade-supporters caused 154 fire incidents between 28 October and 13 November.

The Awami League told the US that they maintain a positive attitude towards engaging in dialogues with the BNP and other opposition parties. However, the ongoing blockade and the opposition's demands create an unfavourable environment for any meaningful dialogue.

Besides, the political parties have to spend all the time to select candidates for 300 constituencies, formulate electoral manifestos, determine campaign strategies, and reach out to voters.

It would not have been possible to hold a fruitful dialogue due to time shortage, even if there were a normal environment, it added.

The ruling party also said they have kept the option of unconditional dialogue open to political parties for a long period. However, the BNP did not realise it, instead remained steadfast in their demand for the resignation of Sheikh Hasina and her government as a precondition for dialogue.

Stressing relationships with international friends, the letter said Awami League emphasises relationships with international friends and expects cooperation from them to present a free and fair election to the people.