Govt finalises EPR 'amendment' for local polls
Saturday, 21 June 2008

Bdnews24.com

The government has finalised its 'amendment' of emergency powers rules to allow campaigning ahead of the local elections, an adviser said Thursday.

Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman told reporters: "Campaigning will be allowed in the applicable local poll areas from the day of announcement of the schedule to the day of voting."

"The government has finalised the amendment of the emergency powers rules allowing rallies, meetings and other campaigning ahead of the local government polls," he said, after a dialogue session with Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish at the Chief Adviser's Office:

The adviser declined to reply, however, when asked when the state of emergency would be wholly lifted.

He said the government was still acting to send former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her sons abroad for better medical treatment.

"The government is closely examining the legal procedures and treatment arrangements to send them abroad," said Hossain Zillur.

Speaking of the dialogue process, he said: "In the 15 dialogue sessions that have taken place so far, we have seen that the political parties are agreed on one issue – a consensus for the nation's sake."

"Four areas have been identified for consensus through dialogue, including an improvement of political culture. Most have also asked to eliminate violence. Many people are concerned about the post-election stability. Many parties proposed strengthening grassroots and local government institutions."

"They have also talked about a balance between the implementation of constitutional and institutional powers," said the adviser.

"Apart from these, there are some sensitive issues over which there is some disagreement. All parties must nevertheless proceed with the responsibility of reaching a consensus on these matters also," he said.

The chief adviser will join a regional dialogue session on June 28 in Chittagong, Zillur said.

"Regional dialogues will also be held in Khulna and Sylhet. And we have plans to hold dialogues in Rajshahi and Rangpur too."

The adviser said the government dialogue with Awami League might be held by June 30. "The schedule will be fixed in a few days," he said.

On the demand of some political parties to hold elections in October instead of December, he said: "This is the responsibility of the Election Commission. The election cannot be held without finalising the voter lists across the country."

On participation of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami in the dialogue, Zillur said: "The parties have already been invited. We are continuing our efforts to bring them to the dialogue. We hope to get lists of their delegates soon."

Secretary general of Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish, Maolana Yusuf Ashraf said his party had placed a 21-point charter of demands to the government in their dialogue session.

The demands include lifting the state of emergency, holding elections in October instead of December and halting the redrawing of electoral constituencies.

"The Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha will fall between Dec 7 and Dec 10 this year. Many people will be outside the country that time. They may not be able to reach home in time for the third week of December. So we have asked for elections to be held in October," he said.

The party also asked the government to clarify its position on the Women Development Policy 2008. It urged the government to ensure women's rights in line with the Quran.

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