BNP demands JS polls first
Sunday, 21 September 2008

Staff Correspondent

BNP in its electoral dialogue with the Election Commission has demanded holding national elections ahead of all other elections according to unamended electoral laws and constituencies.

The party has also asked the commission to withdraw the state of emergency, the amendent of the Representation of the People Order and all new regulations on registration of political parties.
 
The Election Commission sat with mainstream BNP for the first time, on the concluding day of the final round of electoral dialogue on Saturday.
 
An 11-member BNP team, headed by BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain, sat with the CEC-led delegation for almost three hours from 11.50am.
 
After the dialogue Khandaker Delwar told reporters: "People are in doubt about the national elections. That's why we have asked the commission to hold the elections first in line with the old electoral laws and constituencies."
 
Replying to a query, he said: "The new regulations regarding registration require many re-amendments. It will be difficult to hold the elections by amending them in such a short period."
 
Asked whether BNP would join the elections if it was held in accordance with the new Representation of the People Order (amendment) Ordinance and registration regulations, the secretary general said: "Those laws are irrelevant. They should be corrected."
 
"The commission has considered our remarks rational," he added.
 
The EC began the last day of final round dialogue earlier Saturday with Jamaat-e-Islami.
 
A seven-member Jama'at delegation, led by nayeb-e-ameer Moqbul Hossain, sat around 10:30 am at the EC Secretariat, with chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda leading the EC side.
 
The BNP ally challenged new laws and regulations on party registration, and also questioned the demand of political parties including Awami League to bar parties backed by anti-liberation forces and war criminals from registration.
 
"Why should the commission comply with demands of other political parties in not allowing us to be registered?" a Jama'at leader asked.
 
On Jama'at's opposition to registration rules, Delwar said: "This is Jama'at's stance, not the stance of the four-party alliance."
 
"But there are unconstitutional provisions in the regulations. We support Jama'at's remarks from that perspective," he added.
 
The third and final round of electoral dialogue between the EC and political parties began on Sept 6, with a total of 16 parties invited.
 
BNP and its allies skipped their previous schedule dialogues earlier in the month, however, saying they would not sit with the EC before the release of the Khaleda Zia from detention.
 
On her release on Sept 11, the BNP chief announced that her party would sit with the EC for talks and take part in the upcoming polls.
 
Four-party alliance members Jaamat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote followed suit.
 
IOJ sat with the EC after BNP on Saturday in the last of the dialogue sessions.

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