There are no conditions that say BNP cannot bring its own members to participate in the dialogue, Obaidul said
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has said Awami League will hold a dialogue with Jatiya Oikya Front to continue upholding the country’s democratic and constitutional trends.
The discussion between the two parties – slated to be held on Thursday, November 1 at Ganabhaban – will be held with an "open mind", said Obaidul, also the Road Transport and Bridges Minister, to reporters at the Secretariat on Tuesday.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has faith in Dr Kamal Hossain, which is why she sent him the invitation letter to hold a dialogue," he said.
Awami League Office Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap handed over the prime minister’s invitation letter to Kamal Hossain, at his house, around 8am on Tuesday.
According to the invitation, the prime minister will meet with Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikya Front at Ganabhaban around 7pm.
Awami League will finalize the list of the people attending the dialogue, after receiving a similar list from Oikya Front, Obaidul told reporters.
Responding to a question, Obaidul said the dialogue is not being arranged under any kind of pressure.
"There has been no pressure on us to hold this dialogue," he said. "They wanted to discuss their seven-point demand and 11 goals with us, and we welcomed them."
After the dialogue, the Election Commission will decide upon accepting some of their demands, and the rest of the issues will be decided upon by the court, he added.
When asked about Awami League's stance on the issue of Jamaat-e-Islami joining in the dialogue, Obaidul said no non-registered party will be able to participate in the dialogue.
"We are not holding the dialogue with BNP or any single party," he said. "The dialogue will be with the Jatiya Oikya Front. However, we have not set any conditions that say BNP members cannot participate in it."
The seven-point demand and 11 goals mentioned in the letter will be discussed during the dialogue, he said. "They have wanted a level-playing field and foreign observers; we do not have any problems with either of these demands."
Obaidul added that the election will be held under the Election Commission, and the newly-formed cabinet will be the election-time government. "There is no connection between these issues and the dialogue."
There is a possibility the size of the newly-formed government will be the same as the current one, he said, adding that "new faces might be added to it."
Dr Kamal’s letter
Awami League forwarded the invitation to Dr Kamal in response to another formal letter Jatiya Oikya Front sent to Sheikh Hasina on Monday—urging Awami League to agree to their seven-point demand.
In his letter, Dr Kamal greeted Sheikh Hasina and praised the leadership of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Jatiya Oikya Front’s demands
On October 13, BNP, Gono Forum, Nagorik Oikya, and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rab), together, launched Jatiya Oikya Front.
Since then, they have been pressing the government to meet their demands, which include: holding the general election under an impartial government, the release of BNP chief Khaleda Zia and other political prisoners, the dissolution of parliament before the announcement of an election schedule, the resignation of the government, that no electronic voting machines be used for the polls, and that the Election Commission be reformed.
After Awami League accepted their call, Oikya Front cancelled their plan to meet Election Commission officials.
A chance for BNP to hold dialogues?
BNP has long been urging its arch-political rival, Awami League, to hold a dialogue, but their calls have always been rejected.
However, the prime minister’s latest decision to hold a dialogue with Oikya Front, in which BNP is a major coalition partner, is a new development that comes at a time when BNP Chief Khaleda Zia is in jail following her conviction in a corruption case.