Awami League turns down Bangla govt's dialogue offer

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Dhaka, May 28 (UNI) Bangladesh Awami League, a key political party in the country, today turned down the military-backed caretaker government's offer for dialogue before the release of its detained chief Sheikh Hasina.

Acting general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam announced the party's decision at a crowded media conference after the 3-day hectic meetings of the party's extended committee and the central working committee.

''We'll not participate in any dialogue without our leader Sheikh Hasina. We will convey our sentiment to the government in a day or two,'' he said at the end of the adjourned meeting of the working committee at the Dhanmondi office.

Ms Hasina, who ruled the country as Prime Minister for five years from 1996, was arrested in July last year on charges of corruption but her party said the cases are false and concocted to disqualify her for the parliamentary polls slated for December this year.

Asked whether they will join the dialogue if the former premier Hasina is released on parole, Mr Ashraf said, ''No question of parole. We will consider whether or not we will join the dialogue after unconditional release of Sheikh Hasina.'' Asked how they expect their leader Hasina's release as cases were filed against her, he outright rejected the current trail process.

''All these cases are baseless, concocted and motivated. We don't accept this trial process,'' he said.

The central committee has endorsed the Dhaka City Awami League's planned ''human wall'' in the first week of June around the makeshift jail in the parliament building complex where Hasina is detained since July 16 last year.

Political sources said immediate past ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of detained ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and its ally Jamaat-eIslami may follow the suit of Awami League in rejecting the government-sponsored dialogue until their leaders are released.

BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami were also arrested in connrection with different graft cases.

UNI XC SZ AS1822

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