Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina today ruled out fresh dialogue with opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia, a day after the ex-premier vowed to continue the deadly street protests till the government concedes its demand of holding a “fair” midterm poll.
Hasina dubbed the BNP chief a “murderer” and “leader of the militants” and asked her to surrender before a Dhaka court which last month issued a warrant ordering her arrest in two graft cases.
“What is there to talk about with her?” she said.
“Khaleda (Zia) did not get the support from the West (western countries) as well as the North (a reference to the army) and that is why she is burning people from her rage,” Hasina said.
Hasina’s comments came a day after Zia demanded she take immediate steps to hold a dialogue for a “fair and inclusive election” dissolving the existing parliament with a “puppet opposition” as soon as possible to resolve the crisis saying “the key to the solution now lies in the government’s hands”.
“The movement will continue until a logical consequence. I urge all to accept the trouble in the greater national interest,” the ex-premier said in her second such public appearance since the beginning of the unrest coinciding with the first anniversary of last year’s elections which BNP boycotted alleging it lacked “level playing field”.
But the premier today advised Zia to surrender before a Dhaka court which last month issued a warrant ordering her arrest for deliberate and repeated non-appearance to stand trial for two graft charges.
“Otherwise, the government will be compelled to execute the court’s order,” the premier said.
But Hasina-led Awami League, meanwhile, said the dialogue could be held only if “she (Zia) stopped killing people, holding back her terrorist forces” as it called a press conference in response to Zia media briefing.
“No country in the world held talks with terrorists, Bangladesh will be no exception. They (BNP) have launched a war against the people and so we will also fight back but if they stop arson attacks, killing of people to create a peaceful atmosphere, the dialogue may be held,” the ruling party’s general secretary and minister Ashrful Islam said.
The BNP-led 20 party opposition alliance with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Isami as a major partner launched a non-stop nationwide transport blockade on January 6 with frequent arson attacks on buses and trucks that have killed at least 121 people.
Meanwhile, BNP overnight called a fresh 72 hours nationwide strike from tomorrow issuing a statement hours after Zia’s media briefing, protesting against the “arrest” of one of the party’s leaders Salahuddin Ahmed three days ago by plainclothesmen.