Monday, March 12, 2012

Bangladesh opposition demands to restore non-party system

SALEEM SAMAD

PRO-ISLAMIST opposition has slapped a deadline of 90 days to restore the cancelled non-partisan caretaker system, which is widely believe the ruling party would manipulate.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia on Monday threatened agitation, which often begets violence in a poverty stricken nation of 150 million.

She urged her pro-Islamist 6-party alliance and their supporters to enforce nation-wide shut down on Mar 29 protesting the government attempts to bar its leaders and activists from joining Monday's grand rally in the capital’s city center.

Despite security agencies obstacles to hold the pro-Islamist opposition the rally was attended by a crowd of 200,000 and was apparently peaceful, eyewitnesses claim. In a country-wide crackdown, an estimated 4,000 opposition supporters and activists were detained, police spokesperson said.

The commuting city buses, long distance buses, river ferry boats were shut down. Several check posts were manned by police and elite anti-crime squads who frisked thousands of people entering the capital Dhaka.

The security agencies asked the city hoteliers and community centers to shut down their business on the eve of the opposition rally. The agencies put off the air three private satellite channels Ekushey TV, Bangla Vision and Islamic TV from live broadcast of opposition leader speech.

In her 90-minute speech, the BNP chief in a scathing remarks of the government and blamed for gagging the media.

At the rally the opposition leader, Zia who was twice prime minister failed to provide terms of reference of an interim government’s system would be responsible to hold free, fair and credible election.

The opposition believes that the upcoming parliament election in 2013 would be rigged, in the backdrop of a weak election commission.

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