Dhaka: The UN today launched a mission in Bangladesh to end political turmoil triggered by a standoff between the country's two main parties over the general elections scheduled for January 5.
UN assistant secretary general Oscar Fernandez-Taranco arrived in Dhaka last night with UN chief Ban Ki-moon's message for an urgent dialogue between the Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to reach an acceptable formula to hold an "inclusive, non-violent and credible election".
Fernandez-Taranco today met top leaders of the Awami League for nearly two hours. After the meeting, Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said, "We hope this discussion (UN mediation) will yield fruit. We hope the election will be held with participation of all, but we need some space, time which they (UN) need too... today we held an initial discussion without specifying anything."
Fernandez-Taranco evaded the media following the meeting.
Officials said he would also hold talks with Awami League chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, head of the BNP.
The UN envoy's mission began as the BNP and its fundamentalist ally Jamaat-e-Islami launched a fresh 72-hour nationwide blockade.
Fernandez-Taranco, who is in Dhaka on a five-day visit as Ban's special emissary, will also meet election commissioners.
Earlier in the day, he met US Ambassador Dan Mozena.
Over 50 people have died in clashes since October when the BNP led 18-party opposition alliance launched a series of protests demanding Prime Minister Hasina's resignation and the postponement of the elections.
Violence escalated after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule last week and the opposition alliance called two back-to-back nationwide blockades.