DHAKA (AFP) - The prospect of Bangladesh holding its first democratic elections in seven years hung in the balance Thursday after the government refused to meet demands from a key party. The elections are planned for December 18, but one of the country's two main political camps, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), says more time is needed to restore democratic rule to the country. It wants a state of emergency, imposed almost two years ago, lifted and issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government, which expired Wednesday evening, to meet its demands, saying it would otherwise boycott the polls. The government this week held crisis talks with the BNP and its rival, the left-leaning Awami League party, to negotiate a compromise. "Despite lengthy talks and maximum effort, the election commission and government could not broker a consensus between the two political sides," government minister Hussain Zillur Rahman told reporters late Wednesday. "Therefore the parliamentary elections will be held according to the original schedule. The government hopes all will play their roles in the transition to democracy keeping in mind the national interest." The government did however postpone the cut-off date for candidate nominations from Nov 20 to 23, giving it more time to negotiate with the BNP. A spokesman for the BNP and its allies, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, said Thursday the parties were not ruling out participating in the elections but said a boycott was still possible. Dhaka University political science professor Ataur Rahman predicted the BNP and its allies would boycott the polls, meaning they would not be credible. "In Bangladeshi politics you have to save face. If you say something, you have to stick to it," he said, referring to the BNP. Political analyst Golam Hossain, who teaches at Jahangirnagar University, said the international community or the army needed to step in to sort out the stalemate and get both parties to participate. French ambassador to Bangladesh Charley Causeret told reporters Thursday that elections should be held as soon as possible. Meanwhile, former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia said Thursday she would only take part in next month's elections to restore democracy to the nation if the government delayed them by 10 days. "I clearly see that we will take part in elections on December 28 to restore democracy and to establish the basic rights of the people," Zia said. She also urged the government to lift the state of emergency from Sunday, when nominations for the elections close and urged the army to stay out of the political process.