Germany seeks AL-BNP dialogue for funds

Germany seeks AL-BNP dialogue for funds

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Germany needs a “positive signal” that dialogue between the Awami League and the BNP will resume for an end to political bickering as it is in the process of “negotiating” annual funds for Bangladesh.
“For us it is very important to ensure we don’t leave Bangladesh,” visiting MP Dagmar Wohrl said on Tuesday, “Particularly in the difficult time after the Rana Plaza tragedy.”
“We would like to continue support and to expand our relations,” she said at a press conference, using her interpreter. She remained sceptical whether the post-elections stability would prevail and pressed for a start of dialogue at the earliest.Wohrl led a parliamentary delegation marking a year of the Rana Plaza collapse on Apr 24 last year, in which over 1,100 people lost their lives.
It is the first such German delegation visiting Dhaka after Jan 5 elections, which the opposition BNP boycotted, resulting in more than half of the seats returning uncontested winners.
Germany and many other Western countries did not find the elections ‘credible’.
The delegation visited Rana Plaza building site and laid wreaths there to honour the dead, spoke to the survivors and also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury among others.
They will meet BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Tuesday night before leaving Dhaka on Wednesday.
Bangladesh witnessed an eruption of violence in the run-up to the elections but post-elections the situation has remained stable.
But the visiting MPs are not sure whether the stability will prevail.
Wohrl appreciated the stability, but said “we have some doubts whether it can be maintained for a full period of five years unless substantial dialogue between the major political forces starts, rather sooner than later”.
“We would hope to soon receive a positive signal from Bangladesh in this respect,” she said, adding that they had raised the issue with Hasina.
“This was one of our main priorities in the meeting with the prime minister,” she said.
Wohrl said they were hopeful about getting a positive signal on resumption of dialogue so that “this information can be included in our budget negotiation process”.
She said for them “it is very important to resume the dialogue with the current government as we are in the process of negotiating our budget”.
Wohrl said Germany had been Bangladesh’s partner in development since 1972 and they would be happy to decide how to continue this partnership.
She said since 1972 they had made 2.5 billion euros available for Bangladesh through bilateral aid besides contributing in the “multilateral funds”.
The Awami League and the BNP had long been at loggerheads over the poll-time government after the caretaker system had been scrapped through constitutional amendment.
There had been three rounds of dialogue between them with UN mediation just before the Jan 5 elections, but they failed to come up with any agreed solutions.
Wohrl, after meeting with the Speaker on Monday, had expressed German parliament’s doubts about the acceptability of the current Bangladesh parliament among the people.
On Tuesday, she again expressed German parliament’s concerns.
She said the parliament had been elected “by a small part of the electorate only, with tens of millions of voters having been deprived of the possibility to cast their ballot”. – bdnews24.com

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