Country Report Bangladesh January 1996 Main report

Political scene: The US ambassador tries to mediate

On December 31 leading members of the BNP, AL and the Jatiya Party (JP, the party of the former president, Lieutenant-General Hossain Mohammad Ershad) met for talks at the residence of the US ambassador to Bangladesh, David Merrill, in an attempt to break the political deadlock. Mr Merrill also met the leaders of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party separately. The talks lasted for two hours and discussion was reported to have centred on whether a caretaker prime minister would have all the executive powers of the head of government. Sheikh Hasina once again made it clear that the appointment of the president to head an interim government was unacceptable to the AL because of Mr Biswas's long association with the BNP. In addition she also attacked the drive to confiscate illegally held arms, saying that opposition activists were being harassed.

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