Democracy talks open in Bangladesh

Election body plans dialogue with 15 major political parties before holding polls.

    Several prominent leaders like Khaleda Zia
    have been arrested [AFP]

    Reforms pledged
    Bangladesh's interim government has promised that its reform programme should lead to the staging of new polls before the end of 2008.


    "The talks are part of the road map to democracy," Hossain said, adding the commission would also discuss reforms including party funding, a code of conduct and the eligibility of candidates.


    Hossain said the country's two main parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League, have also been invited for talks.


    A so-called 'reformist' faction of the BNP - opposed to jailed party leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia - and the Awami League, which is led by another jailed ex-premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed, have agreed to take part.


    But the faction led by Zia's loyalists has not yet decided whether it will take part, Hannan Shah, Zia's aide, said.


    The interim government came to power on January 11 after months of violent protests by opposition parties over attempts by the BNP to rig planned elections, leading the president to cancel the polls and impose a state of emergency.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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