UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has discussed about the recently concluded city corporation elections with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The UN chief telephoned Hasina at 1:48pm on Friday and had a 14-minute long conversation with her.
His call assumes significance as it comes close on the heels of UN asking for a probe into the allegations of poll irregularities.
During his discussion with the prime minister, he though described BNP’s participation in the city polls as ‘comforting’, said its boycott of elections midway was ‘unfortunate’, Prime Minister’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury told the media.
“Prime minister informed him that elections to the three city corporations were held peacefully and that it was for the first time that no one was killed in an election-related violence in Bangladesh,” Chowdhury said.
Awami League-backed mayor candidates won the Apr 28 city polls. BNP, alleging rigging, boycotted elections at noon.
After the US and UK, the UN secretary-general urged to investigate the allegation of irregularities in the elections.
Hasina’s Press Secretary Chowdhury said, “Speaking about the boycott, the prime minister told the UN secretary-general that BNP burnt people alive during its three-month long protest. She said people did not vote for them because they do not want damage of lives and properties.”
“BNP understood this and announced the boycott three hours through the polling to discredit elections,” Chowdhury quoted Hasina as telling Ban Ki-moon.
She also asked the UN chief to urge the BNP to ‘return to democracy eschewing violence, terrorism, and militancy’, he said.
In this regard, the UN secretary-general told Hasina that he entrusted UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco to hold talks with the related parties on Bangladesh’s ‘overall situation’.
The prime minister noted that there was no chance to question the elections as they saw 44 percent turnout and BNP-backed candidates got huge votes too, he said.
“The prime minister told the UN chief that people did not respond to their (BNP) call for movement. Similarly, she said, they also failed to galvanise their leaders and activists on the field even after taking part in the elections. They could not send polling agents to the centres because they killed people during protests, she told Ban Ki-moon,” Chowdhury said.
The UN secretary-general hailed Hasina’s leadership in Bangladesh’s socio-economic development, achieving MDG target and protecting peace, and law and order, he said.
The prime minister thanked Ban Ki-moon for calling her and appreciated his wholehearted help to uphold democracy in Bangladesh, he added.