Thirty-seven eminent citizens have praised the president's move to sit down with political parties for discussions concerning the formation of a new Election Commission (EC).
In a statement on Wednesday, they termed the initiative, taken by President M Abdul Hamid, as "timely and urgent in the current context of the country".
The president opened the talks on Monday with Jatiya Party (JaPa), the main opposition party in parliament, followed by a dialogue with Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasod-Inu) on Wednesday.
They also lauded the economic progress Bangladesh has achieved in some indices.
However, their statement noted that Bangladesh is falling behind when it comes to issues including elections, accountability, law enforcement, freedom of speech and assembly rights.
"Inequality is increasing at an alarming rate. The declining quality of education and healthcare is now undeniable. Beyond that, another major cause for concern is the deterioration of tolerance in our politics," their statement read.
The eminent citizens expressed hope that the president, in his talks with political parties, will discuss the steps and consensus required to make economic development inclusive and the distribution system equitable.
"We also hope that through this dialogue an acceptable-to-all draft proposal for the future of Bangladesh will be created," they said in the statement.
The joint statement further anticipated that specific steps to address the issue of human rights abuses will be included in the draft proposal.
The citizens also expected a consensus among parties, akin to the tripartite outline drafted in 1990.
"At the same time, we call on the President to involve the media and civil society organisations in this process," they urged.
Among those who signed the statement are Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury, emeritus professor of Dhaka University; Barrister Amir-ul Islam, member of the first constitution-drafting committee and a former minister; M Hafizuddin Khan, former adviser to a caretaker government; former Supreme Court Justice Abdul Mateen; Dr M Sakhawat Hossain, former election commissioner; Dr Hameeda Hossain, human rights activist; Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former Bangladesh Bank governor; Ali Imam Majumder, former cabinet secretary; Mohiuddin Ahmed, former secretary of foreign ministry; Prof Perween Hasan, vice-chancellor of Central Women's University; Dr Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan); Prof Tofail Ahmed, local government specialist; Supreme Court advocate Dr Shahdeen Malik; Munira Khan, president of Fair Election Monitoring Alliance; Shireen Huq, member, Naripokkho; and Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Sara Hossain.
The current EC is scheduled to expire on 14 February, 2022.
According to the EC website, currently there are 39 registered political parties but only nine parties have representation in the parliament.
The nine parties are Bangladesh Awami League, JaPa, BNP, Bangladesh Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Gano Forum, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation and Jatiya Party-JP.