Antigraft drive meant to rescue BNP
Monday, 01 September 2008
The Awami League has alleged the government launched the anticorruption drive to pull the BNP-led four-party alliance from the abyss it had sunk into.
"It is now clear that the real parties of the government are BNP and [Jamaat-e-Islami]," acting Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters after a two-hour meeting of the party's policymaking presidium at acting president Zillur Rahman's Gulshan home.
"The anticorruption drive was conducted to help BNP and Jamaat pull themselves out of the deep hole they had plunged into and bring them to the same level as us. This is the level playing field the government talks about," he added.
"In line with the Election Commission letter the Awami League will hold dialogue with it on the Representation of the People Order (Amendment) ordinance on September 9. Besides Awami League will also have talks with the Election Commission on September 4.
President Iajuddin Ahmed signed the new RPO ordinance into law on Aug 19. The new laws say a candidate will not be able to contest the national polls from more than three constituencies simultaneously, one has to register as a voter first to be able to run the elections and political parties contesting the polls must register first.
"Later at a convenient time the Awami League will have talks with the advisers to the caretaker government."
The AL on August 20 gave separate letters to the chief adviser and the chief election commissioner for separate meetings. The Sept 4 meeting will take place on the basis of the letter.
Ashraful continued, "We want national elections first. In principle we don't oppose Upazila election. But we differ on holding Upazila elections before the national elections."
He said he believed the issue can be resolved through discussion.
Ashraful briefed journalists on the agenda for the meeting with the EC.
"[Ban on] Foreign branches of political parties, front organisations and associate organisations, and "no" vote provision will come up during the discussion. There is no provision of "no" vote anywhere in the world.
"Besides, some clauses of the party constitution have to be changed to meet conditions for registration. It needs holding party conference. To hold party conference withdrawal of the state of emergency is necessary."
Taking aim at the government policymakers, he said, "We've said time and again and are saying now: Do not decide unilaterally. Unilateral decisions will not be good for the nation."
He alleged: "The four-party alliance government destroyed all the institutions one after another. This government has driven the last nail in the coffin of the rule of law.
"Not only in Bangladesh, but also nowhere in the world is there any precedent of political parties holding meeting inside jail. Now, no such meeting can any more be obstructed by law. We strongly protest it. It amounts to indifference to the rule of law."
"We don't object to someone holding meeting. But our objection is against the way the meeting took place. If necessary, Khaleda Zia could have been freed on parole to hold the meeting."
The AL leader made the comments in an indirect reference to what he alleged was a meeting in the makeshift jail in the parliament complex between detained BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mojaheed.
He repeated the comment he made on Friday that if Khaleda's elder son Tarique Rahman was released from detention, whether there was any point in keeping any other politician confined on corruption charges.
"The anticorruption drive of the government was eyewash. The government is not sincere. The main aim of the government is to put Awami League and BNP on the same level. It has been proved now.
"If a person who is a 'world champion' in corruption is released the government does not have any moral right to keep others on similar charges behind bars. Before releasing him, all those who have been arrested on charges of corruption have to be freed."
Asked to comment on AL-backed mayors-elect resigning their party posts to take oath, he said, "Those who have been elected mayor will make their decision abiding by the law."
Zillur presided over the meeting that started at 11am. Presidium members Amir Hossain Amu, Suranjit Sengupta, Motia Chowdhury and Ashraful were present.
Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed and Ataur Rahman Khan Kaiser skipped the meeting because of illness.