Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has raised questions over the Jatiya Oikya Front’s sincerity in the dialogue as the new alliance announced a plan to continue street protests simultaneously with talks. “The talks are ongoing, and they also announced a protest programme at the same time. What kind of dialogue is this?” she said. “This is not quite understandable to us. I do not know how the nation will take it?” the prime minister said during a discussion organised to mark Jail Killing Day at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.
In a major political breakthrough ahead of the 11th parliamentary election, the Awami League sat for talks with the Jatiya Oikya Front on Thursday despite dismissing several recent such requests from the BNP.
"We want a free and fair election. When the Oikya Front wrote to us for a dialogue, I immediately welcomed it, despite my tight schedule. When somebody wants to meet, we respond positively. We had meetings with the Oikya Front and Jukto Front. We will sit with everyone.”
“The discussion was held in an amicable atmosphere. We will meet whatever demands are possible to meet.”
Following the dialogue, leaders of the Oikya Front and BNP announced street protests to press home their seven-point demand as they claimed that the dialogue did not yield any solution.
The ruling Awami League has already made it clear that it will not accept any demand that goes beyond the constitution. The Oikya Front demanded the release of Khaleda Zia from jail and the dissolution of parliament during the polls. The leaders of the Oikya Front also demanded the release of all political prisoners.
“We asked them to submit a list. If there is no murder or any other criminal charge against them, we will look into those cases,” Hasina said.
"We did not arrest anyone for political reasons. If we had done it, then Khaleda Zia would have been arrested in 2015 when she burnt people alive.”
Referring to the allegations of the governments influence over the BNP chairpersons trial, Hasina said: “The case has been going on for 10 years. If the government had done any foul play, it would not have taken 10 years.”
Hasina insisted that the government has nothing to do with the convictions of Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman.
“We have nothing to do with those cases. The judiciary is completely independent. The jail sentences for Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman were given by the independent judiciary.”