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Politicians for parliamentary polls first PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 March 2008

Staff Correspondent

The present interim government has no mandate to hold local government body elections before the parliamentary polls, said political leaders at a roundtable in Dhaka on Saturday.

At the roundtable in the CIRDAP auditorium, they said the prime responsibility of the interim government was to hold the general elections.

Leaders of various political parties such as the Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalists Party and left-leaning parties took part in the discussion on the ‘proposed local government commission ordinance and supplementary proposal’ organised by the non-governmental organisation Governance Coalition with support of 27 NGOs.

The Election Commission is thinking of announcing polls schedules for four city corporations and seven municipal corporations in March while the parliamentary election is scheduled by the end of 2008. ‘The main responsibility of this government is to hold the general elections.

The parliamentary polls must be held before any other elections,’ BNP vice-president MK Anwar, also a former minister, said, adding that the present administration was not a caretaker government in nature. He said the preparation for national identity cards was not under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission.

‘The Election Commission cannot issue identity cards,’ he said. He stressed the need for coordination among all the institutions to strengthen the local government. ‘We have comprehensive local government laws, but they are yet to be implemented.’ Awami League presidium member Suranjit Sengupta, also a former lawmaker, said the general elections must be held before any other polls as stipulated in the constitution.

‘Go for general elections before holding any other polls. The government must begin holding dialogues soon with the political parties…. At the dialogues, we will ask when the elections will be held and when the state of emergency will be lifted,’ Suranjit said. He asked who gave the government the right to make draft ordinances on the government bodies, including the local government commission.

‘All the ordinances framed so far will need to be placed in the parliament. They [lawmakers in the next parliament] may approve it or may not approve it,’ Suranjit said, as he talked about the fate of the ordinances promulgated by the government of Fakhruddin Ahmed.

He said democracy could not be established by keeping people in jail and suspending their rights. ‘When the constitution was prepared, we never thought that some of its portions will be suspended for some time.’ Mujahidul Islam Selim of the Communist Party stressed the need for democratic decentralisation of the state machinery.

The Workers Party president, Rashed Khan Menon, said both military government and bureaucracy had destroyed the local government system. The local government system in the Chittagong Hill Tracts must not be disturbed in any way. The Manusher Janya Foundation coordinator, Kartik Chandra Mandal, made the keynote speech at the roundtable, moderated by Dhaka University professor Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman.

The Governance Coalition coordinator, Mohsin Ali, presided over the programme. The speakers urged the government not to make any changes in the local government system developed by the ethnic minority communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts over centuries. The government has initiated a move to promulgate three local government ordinances to strengthen the local government bodies. Proper documentation of

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