New Age | Newspaper
Revive CG provision first: Khaleda
BNP chairperson and leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia on Wednesday requested president Zillur Rahman to revive the election-time non-party caretaker government before discussing the issue of reconstituting the Election Commission.
During the hour-long dialogue at Bagabhaban, she also requested the president to create a political atmosphere ‘conducive’ for holding the next parliamentary elections through discussions with at all the political parties.
She called for taking the consent of the political parties in this regard.
Khaleda told the president that the crisis created by abolition of the election time non-party caretaker government could not be resolved by reconstituting the Election Commission.
She expressed her doubt whether the dialogue initiative, the president had taken with his limited constitutional authority, could produce positive results.
BNP attended the dialogue knowing full well that it cannot produce the results, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said replying to reporters after the dialogue.
He said that though the president called the dialogue, the remote control was in other hands.
A 15-member BNP delegation, led by Khaleda Zia, went to Bangabhaban at 10.50 AM for the dialogue with the president, prepared with a set of written documents, containing the opposition proposals for solving the political stalemate facing the nation ever since the Awami League-led regime abruptly abolished the system of non-party caretaker administration for holding free, fair and credible parliamentary polls.
She gave the papers to the president.
‘We attended the dialogue to clear our stand and place our demands before the president,’ he said.
The BNP delegation told the president that reconstitution of the Election Commission was not the prime issue at the moment, as the people of the country are more interested to get the non-party caretaker government system revived for holding free and fair elections acceptable to all, Fakhrul told a news briefing at the BNP central officer, on return from the dialogue.
He said that the people of the country now consider revival of the system of the election time non-party caretaker government as ‘the prime issue.’
‘So, we told him that before reconstituting the Election Commission it is essential to restore the system of the election time non-party caretaker government,’ he said.
‘And the people will not accept anything else,’ he said.
‘We told him that no election under partisan government would be acceptable,’ he said.
He said that Khaleda Zia reminded the president that he and Sheikh Hasina had led a movement in 1995-1996 for the establishment of the election time non party caretaker government saying that no fair elections could be held under partisan government.
He said that the ground realties remained unchanged.
Fakhrul quoted president Ziluur Rahman as stating in reply that at that time he was the general secretary of a party and now he called the dialogue as president, having no party affiliation.
He said, ‘The president gave us a patient hearing and told us that his authority was limited.’
Fakhrul said, ‘However, the president assured us that he would reach our contentions to the appropriate place.’
The BNP chairperson assured the president full cooperation of her party if he took the initiative for holding dialogue with political parties for reviving the system of the election time non-party caretaker government and appointment of the head of the next caretaker administration, Fakhrul said.
He said that the BNP delegation also told the president that the outgoing election commissioners never functioned fairly, freely or neutrally as they were claiming.
He said that their past functioning only prove that they cannot work independently.
Khaleda cited the failure of the outgoing Election Commission to hold the city polls in Dhaka after announcing schedule, Fakhrul said.
He said that Khaleda pointed out that the outgoing election commissioners failed to hold the Dhaka city polls only because they functioned at the instance of the government.
Now the government split the historic city of Dhaka, he said.
He said that the outgoing election commissioners were now stating it was not possible to hold elections in time.
Khaleda also cited the instance of the government ignoring the Election Commission’s letter for army deployment during the recent city polls in Narayanganj.
Clarifying BNP’s objection to using electronic voting machine in polls, Khelda cited rulings by courts in Germany and Finland which said that the election results could be manipulated using the EVMs.
She also pointed out to the president that the election commission of UK had abandoned the idea of using EVMs in polls and that the Dutch government withdrew licence for manufacturing EVMs after it came to know that hat the EVMs could be hacked easily.
‘The EVMs lost acceptability, particularly after the US elections in 2000 when it surfaced later that even dead people cast their votes taking advantage of the controversial machines,’ he said.
Khaleda Zia categorically told the president that besides non-party caretaker government and impendent election commission, peaceful political environment was essential for holding credible elections, he said.
She also pointed out to the president the government was out to destroy the election atmosphere in Bangladesh by unleashing oppression on the opposition, harassing them with false cases, he said.
She also pointed out how the government was obstructing peaceful demonstrations to create an unmistakable impression that the lone party in the country was the ruling party, he said.
It was pointed out to the president, he said, that the nightmare of single-party rule under the incumbent regime destroyed the peaceful environment conducive for holding fair and acceptable elections.
Khaleda Zia pointed out that the atmosphere needs to change immediately in the interest of holding fair parliamentary polls, due in 2014.
The BNP delegation included standing committee members RA Gani, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Mahbubur Rahman, Jamiruddin Sircar, MK Anwar, Abdul Moin Khan, Rafiqul Islam Mia, Nazrul Islam Khan, ASM Hannan Shah, Mirza Abbas and Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, the party chairperson’s adviser Osman Farruk and acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
So far 21 political parties held separate dialogues with the president, which had begun on December 22.