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Inconclusive, again

14-party terms Oikyafront key demands unconstitutional as 2nd dialogue ends; The ball is now in govt court, says Dr Kamal
Staff Reporter, Dhaka
Inconclusive, again
Flanked by other leaders, Oikyafront delegation chief Kamal Hossain (right) talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while leaving Ganabhaban yesterday after their second round of talks over the upcoming polls. Focus Bangla Photo

The second round of talks between the government and the newly launched Jatiya Oikyafront ended inconclusively yesterday with the ruling alliance rejecting the opposition’s demands as “unconstitutional”.

During the dialogue, Jatiya Oikyafront had made four specific demands such as the dissolution of the current parliament and holding polls within 90 days of this, formation of a neutral poll-time government comprising 10 advisers, release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia on bail, and the reconstitution of the Election Commission.

“We have placed our demands. The ball is now in the government’s court.

It has to decide whether to accept these demands or not,” Oikyafront chief Dr Kamal Hossain told the media after the meeting.

The leader of Jaitya Oikyafront of which BNP is a major component, added that they will go to the people and forge a tough movement to force the government to realize their demands.

The second round of talks had started around 11 am and ended around 2 pm at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s official residence Gono Bhaban.

After the meeting, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader told the media that Jatiya Oikyafront’s demand to hold the general election within 90 days of dissolution of parliament was unconstitutional.

“If we accept this demand then an evil force can seize the opportunity and create a 1/11 like situation, which will be bad for all,” he said.

The AL leader also rejected Oikyafront’s demand to form a poll-time government comprising 10 advisers as unacceptable. “We want to tell it clearly that we can’t go beyond the country’s Constitution,” he added.

Quader also ruled out any further talks with Oikyafornt. “The dialogue has almost ended, but discussion can be continued with the continuation of the election process,” he added.

About the opposition bloc’s demand for army deployment with magistracy power during the election, Quader said it was also an unconstitutional demand. “The army will be deployed in the next polls as a striking force,” he added.

Referring to Khaleda Zia’s release, Quader said, “If the BNP chief is a real political prisoner, her release on parole will be considered and the law minister has been given the necessary instructions in this regard. Or they can fight a legal battle to free her.”

The ruling party leader claimed that Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina had accepted most of the seven demands placed by the Oikyafront.

Quader said the PM will explain the ruling alliance’s stand to the nation at a press conference today. It will be held at Gono Bhaban at 12pm.

On their part, Oikyafront leaders warned that if the government did not accept their seven demands, they would force it to implement them by waging a movement with the support of the people.

The leaders, however, said they will march in a procession towards the Election Commission (EC) office if the poll schedule was announced bypassing their request.

In a sudden mover, however, Jatiya Oikyafront postponed its road march towards Rajshahi scheduled for today. Oikyafront spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir cancelled the programme at press briefing at BNP chairperson’s political office in Gulshan yesterday hours after the Oikyafront confirmed its road march to Rajshahi.

Oikyafront leader Kamal said they proposed to the government to continue talks on their seven-point demands on a small scale. “We want resolution of our demands in a stable and peaceful manner,” he said. He said the PM has assured them of withdrawing all false and ghost cases against Oikyafront leaders and activists in the country and not to file any more cases or arrest them.

Oikyafront spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they cannot say whether the dialogue was fruitful or not. “We can only say about it when the government takes a decision on our demands,” he added.

He said the government told them that there was scope to continue the talks. “We want to go to the people with our demands and our expectations will be fulfilled as per their expectations,” he added.

Alamgir, also a senior BNP leader, warned that they would wage a tough movement if the government refused to accept their demands.

He said rather than on parole, they wanted Khaleda to be released in accordance with law.

Nagorik Oikya convenor Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they have requested the government not to announce the poll schedule today.

“We demanded dissolution of parliament and holding the next general election within 90 days of that as election cannot be held by keeping a parliament alive,” he said.

Earlier, during the second phase of dialogue with the AL-led 14-party alliance, Oikyafront tabled four written proposals including the formation of an election-time government to ensure free, fair and participatory polls.

Oikyafront said in accordance with Section 123 (3) (kha) of the Constitution, the Prime Minister can advise the President to dissolve parliament later this month or sometime in December. And the date for the next election will be fixed within 90 days of the dissolution of parliament. As per this, the next election can be held later in February or March next year.

Oikyafront mentioned that there was precedence of the dissolution of parliament in the country even before completion of the house’s tenure. According to constitutional norms of different countries, there should be a gap of 45 days for polls following the dissolution of parliament.

Oikyafront alleged that the current EC had failed to achieve people’s confidence and said there were questions among the people about the skills, capability and neutrality of the EC. So in its second proposal, Oikyafront asked for a partial reconstitution of the EC in accordance with Section 118(6) of the Constitution with the CEC and other commissioners tendering their resignations to the President. A new secretary of the EC can also be appointed based on consensus.

In its third proposal, it demanded the release of opposition leaders and activists, including the BNP chairperson, at least on bail so as to create a level playing field. In that case, the attorney general, public prosecutor and other assistant public prosecutors won’t oppose their bails. Oikyafront also demanded ensuring the holding of rallies, and carrying out organizational activities before 48 hours of the polls.

Oikyafront also proposed the formation of an election-time government in consultation with all political parties.

According to the proposal, the President would appoint the chief adviser to the poll-time government from those who are eligible to be an MP, but he would not be involved with any political party or be a candidate for the parliamentary polls.

According to proposal, the chief adviser would appoint 10 advisers in consultation with the President from among those who are involved with any political party or are candidates for the parliamentary polls.

The poll-time government would be able to hold the parliamentary election within 90 days after dissolution of parliament, it said.

The Oikyafront delegation for the talks included Dr Kamal Hossain, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, its standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, JSD president ASM Abur Rob, Nagorik Oikya Convenver Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Oikya Prokriya leader Sultan Mansur.

The ruling alliance was represented by AL president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, AL general secretary and road transport Minister Obaidul Quader, industries minister Amir Hossain Amu, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, health minister Mohammad Nasim, social welfare minister Rashed Khan Menon, information minister Hasanul Haq Inu, AL presidium member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, law minister Anisul Huq, AL joint general secretary Dr Dipu Moni, and AL law affairs secretary SM Rezaul Karim.

On November 1, a 23-member team of the 14-party alliance, led by Sheikh Hasina, had met a 20-member Oikyafront delegation led by Dr Kamal Hossain for talks at Gano Bhaban.

After that meeting, Oikyafront leaders had said they gave their seven-point demands to the Prime Minister, but did not find any specific solution except some good words about rallies and meetings.

Besides, Dr AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukta Front sat in dialogue with the Prime Minister and her 14-party alliance leaders on November 2. The government held similar talks with the HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party on November 5, leaders of 12 Islamic parties on November 6 and leaders of Left Democratic Alliance on November 6.

The leaders of the ruling alliance had also sat for a meeting with the Prime Minister and Awami League leaders on November 4.





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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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