Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bangladesh government snubs opposition demand for non-party system


SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh’s ruling party on Wednesday rejected the opposition’s demand for a non-partisan interim government before the planned election in less than two years.

The pro-Islamist opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNPs) leader Khaleda Zia two days ago gave a 90 days ultimatum to accept a non-party system for holding a free, fair and credible election or face anti-government agitation.

Prime minister Shiekh Hasina lambasted her arch rival BNP chairperson Zia and said when she (Zia) was in power, she turned down the non-party system and described that only children and insane are neutral to head the interim government to oversee the parliament election.

The prime minister sat behind a bullet-proof glass shield while senior alliance leaders reiterated that the upcoming general election in 2013 would be free, fair and credible under the present government.


However, the opposition fears the government would rig the election, despite majority of the bye-polls and mayoral elections in different cities the opposition candidates won the seats.


During the 35-minute speech at a rally in the city center, Hasina alleged that the opposition’s agitation is a ploy to destabilize the pro-secular democratic governance.


Meanwhile, the business leaders warned on Tuesday that the opposition threats for political agitation and nation-wide shut down on Mar 29 would raise tensions in social life. The leaders of the influential business and export chambers urged the opposition to demonstrate restrain and instead debate in the parliament.

The opposition has been boycotting the parliament for more than a year, for unknown reasons.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com