Bangladesh parties hold first talks to defuse poll crisis
DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh's ruling party and opposition held their first talks on Tuesday in a bid to defuse the country's election crisis, a special UN envoy said, calling it an "important moment" in the stalemate.
Some 74 people have died in clashes since October, when an 18-party opposition movement launched a wave of protests calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign before Jan 5 polls.
The opposition, led by Hasina's rival Khaleda Zia, has said it fears the premier will try to rig the vote in a country which for decades has been plagued by coups and political upheaval.
"Today represents an important moment in the current context. Representatives of both parties have met and engaged in a dialogue," Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN assistant secretary for political affairs, told reporters.