UN chief calls for political dialogue in Bangladesh

United Nations, Jan 7: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said violence during the Bangladesh parliamentary elections was “unacceptable” and appealed to political parties to urgently initiate meaningful dialogue.

“He regrets that the parties did not reach the kind of agreements which could have produced a peaceful, all-inclusive election outcome,” a UN statement said Monday.

According to the statement issued by his spokesperson, the UN chief expressed sadness at the loss of lives and violent incidents that marred the Jan 5 general elections, which were characterised by polarisation and low voter turnout.

Ban called on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure first and foremost a peaceful environment, conducive to people maintaining their right to assembly and expression. “Violence and attacks on people and property can never be acceptable,” he added.

The secretary general called on the political parties in Bangladesh to resume meaningful dialogue and to urgently address the expectations of the people for an inclusive political process.

“The UN will continue to support the country’s democratic processes in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, non-violence, reconciliation and dialogue,” he said.

At least 21 people were killed in the election-related violence across the country. The opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) announced fresh strikes and called for abolition of the poll results, in which the ruling Awami League garnered 232 seats, more than enough to form a new government.

The opposition BNP, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, and its 17 allies boycotted the elections as the government headed by Sheikh Hasina refused to let a caretaker government oversee the polls.

IANS