Dhaka, Feb 11: Opposition leader Khaleda Zia insisted today that there could be no resolution of Bangladesh's growing political crisis unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed to stand down and allow new elections.
"Every conscious and conscientious person in Bangladesh knows that the only way to resolve the current political crisis is to hold an inclusive, competitive and meaningful election," Zia told AFP by phone.
"The more quickly it can be arranged, the better it is for everyone. If it is delayed, the crisis could become even more complex," she said in her first interview with Western media since she was confined to her office more than a month ago. Zia, leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), said that she wanted to reach a consensus on the framework for the elections with her arch rival Hasina but there had been no response to proposals that she had previously put forward.
"We said a fair election should be held based on consensus of all parties and through talks. We want that," she said. "We also have to make some decisions on the election commission, administration and electoral rules so that a level playing field is created for all the parties.
"We made a seven-point proposal on these matters a few days ago... but we've not heard anything from them," she added. More than 80 people have been killed in political violence since Zia was confined to her office in central Dhaka on January 3, shortly before the anniversary of last year's general election that was boycotted by all opposition parties.