Political crisis has been deepening in Bangladesh. Difference between the government and the opposition about the procedure of election has been widening. The Prime Minister and Chief of Bangladesh Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, has been insisting on holding of general election under her command. But there is no specific outline about the election procedure in Bangladesh. Once she said that “the election would be held under her command”. On another occasion she said that “there will be no election in Bangladesh under non-elected government i.e. Caretaker Government.
On the other hand BNP-led 18-party opposition, which also includes Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, has been insisting that there will be no election in Bangladesh in any way other than the caretaker system. For this reason, 18-party alliance is contemplating to announce a tough political agitation programme to press home its demand. Thus the general public in Bangladesh is to face a tough political situation in the country. It may be mentioned here that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as the opposition leader in 1996, had waged a relentless struggle against BNP-led government in collaboration with Jamaat-e-Islami for introduction of caretaker system. Now Sheikh Hasina says that there is no need of caretaker system for holding a free and fair general election. But the 18-party alliance led by BNP says that there will be no impartial election under the command of Sheikh Hasina’s government.
Meanwhile, there is no sign of melting of ice in the political arena even after the initiative of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to end political crisis in Bangladesh. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is sticking to her statement that the general elections will be held according to the constitution while BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia has reiterated that no election would be of any help under the present government. Thus the Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to end the political crisis in the country may lead to further political crisis.
Again Ban Ki-moon called Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Kheleda Zia and urged them to hold talks for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing political crisis. He also said the UN wanted to see a free, fair and credible election participated by all parties and that it is closely monitoring the political situation in Bangladesh. Ban Ki-moon was told that the government would welcome any proposal from the opposition regarding the next elections and the polls time government. Again Ban called Begum Khaleda, who told him that her party was ready for any kind of dialogue with the government.
CALL TO HASINA
Talking to the UN chief, Hasina said she had called upon the opposition to join the next parliament session and place their proposal regarding the next polls and the polls time government. “During the telephonic conversation the premier apprised Ban Ki-moon of the mode of the next general elections and the current political situation,” said PM’s Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, “We would welcome any sort of proposal of the opposition if it places it in the upcoming session of the Jatiya Sangsad.” She added that she and her government always believed in solving any problems through discussion.
Hasina also informed the UN Secretary General of her earlier proposal to the leader of the opposition for a dialogue to solve the problems. “But without responding to the proposal, she (Khaleda Zia)” issued the government a 48-hour ultimatum and later the opposition destroyed peace and political environment by unleashing violence, terrorism and subversive activities to topple the government, she said.
The Prime Minister said her government wants peace and to see a peaceful handover of power through free, fair and impartial elections. She expressed high hopes that the next general election would be held in due time as per the constitution and the people would be able to cast their votes without any barrier. The opposition had brought an adjournment motion about the polls time government in parliament.
And the treasury bench agreed to discuss the issue in the house, she said. “But the opposition withdrew its adjournment motion within three hours as it was reluctant to solve the problems,” she added. Hasina said the treasury bench wanted to discuss the issue in the Jaitya Sangsad as it tried to solve any political issue through discussion and in a peaceful environment. The 15th amendment to the constitution was brought following the verdict of the country’s apex court, she said.
The apex court declared the 13th amendment to the constitution illegal since any unelected government is in conflict with the constitution. “Only the elected representatives will run the country,” she added. The parliamentary special committee brought the amendment after a long discussion with all stakeholders including civil society and media representatives, Hasina said.
She told Ban Ki-moon that the parliamentary special body discussed the issue with all, not to mention the lawmakers, and such a discussion over a long period of time had never been held in Bangladesh.
The UN Secretary General lauded Bangladesh’s tremendous successes in the fields of democracy, economic growth and millennium development goals under the leadership of Hasina. “Bangladesh has been acclaimed internationally for its firm stance against terrorism, militancy and fundamentalism,” he said, adding that the world needed a leader like Hasina. He expressed hope that Bangladesh’s advancement in democracy, economy and anti-militant activities would continue under the leadership of Hasina.
The UN Secretary General invited the premier to attend the next UN General Assembly session scheduled next month. Accepting the invitation, Hasina said her participation in the INGA would depend on the situation as the JS session is likely to continue at that time.
The premier also invited Ban Ki-moon to visit Bangladesh at his convenient time. The UN chief expressed sympathy to Hasina for the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the most of his family members on 15 August 1975.
CALL TO KHALEDA
The UN chief also talked about the country latest political situation and the next general elections during his half an hour telephone conversation with the BNP chairperson.
BNP spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir briefed the media about the conversation at Khaleda’s Gulshan office. Quoting the UN chief, he said the UN wanted to see a free, fair and acceptable election participated by all political parties.
Ban Ki-moon called upon the ruling and the opposition parties to work out a solution through dialogue to ensure all parties participation in the next elections, informed Fakhrul. He said the UN chief, however, expressed concern as the UN’s recent initiatives to get the country out of the political stalemate had not been successful. In response, Khaleda told him that she and her party were ready for the dialogue and had repeatedly been proposing for talks. There are no alternative to dialogue to save democracy,” said Fakhrul quoting Khaleda as saying.
The BNP chairperson said the opposition would not participate in any election under the Awami League government. She said 90 per cent people, including the civil society and political parties, believe that there was no alternative to a non-party government, and a strengthened and independent election commission during the next polls.
The main opposition BNP-led 18-party alliance has warned that it would launch an oust-government movement after Eid al-Adha if the government does not resolve the prevailing political crisis over non-party caretaker government issue. “We will have no option but to intensify the oust government movement after the Eid if the ruling Awami League does not sit across the table to overcome he crisis,” said BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman. He said this at a press briefing at the party’s Naya Paltan central office. Earlier a meeting of the 18-party alliance was held with Noman in the chair to make the Narsingdi rally a success.
Noman urged the government to reinstate the polls time non-party interim government so that the next general polls could be held in a free and congenial atmosphere. “Meaningful dialogue is needed. Time is still adequate. The government should take immediate measures to overcome the prevailing political standoff,” he added. If our demand is not met, the 18-party leaders and activists as well as the countrymen will go for a tough movement, he said.