Ibrahim backs all local polls ahead of national election
Thursday, 26 June 2008


Staff Correspndent

The Bangladesh Kalyan Party voiced support for holding all local polls ahead of the parliamentary election in its dialogue with the government Wednesday, especially stressing the upazila polls as a critical stage for decentralisation of power.

BKP chairman Syed Muhammad Ibrahim also urged people to refrain from saying or doing things which might lead others to misunderstand the army's role and intentions.

If the military is presented before the people as their adversary it could threaten national security, said Ibrahim—himself a retired major general—while briefing reporters after the BKP's political dialogue session with the government at the Chief Adviser's Office.

Asked what led him to make the comment on misunderstandings regarding the army, Ibrahim said: "A leader of a major political party said the other day that he'd like to see 'them' perishing; this 'them' referred to the military and the caretaker government."

From the government side, education adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman also speaking after the dialogue said on the matter: "We'd like to advance on the basis of consensus; therefore, such vindictive statements shouldn't be welcome."

The Kalyan Party placed a nine-point demand in Wednesday's dialogue, the party chairman said.

"They include people voting directly to elect a president or election of a president by the people's representatives, the trial of war criminals, implementing the election roadmap and constitutional reforms."

"We've placed a proposal for constitutional reforms, which, when effected could help change the presidential election system."

"The constitutional reforms have to be made during the national parliamentary sessions. But to facilitate those reforms, a committee may be formed now as an advance stage activity," suggested Ibrahim.

"We've supported the local government polls before the national election, especially stressing the upazila elections from our appreciation of the fact that upazila is a critical component for decentralisation of power."

"Defying court orders, past governments had bypassed holding the upazila elections. This must be accomplished now."

Responding to questions from reporters after the dialogue, education adviser said the government will hold a small-scale conference on June 27 in Khagrachhari, with the local indigenous communities.

"And the first regional dialogue will be held on June 28 in Chittagong. Work is progressing on the dialogue with the expatriate Bangladeshis too," he said.

"Both factions of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have been invited to dialogue; we're awaiting their replies," Hossain Zillur added.

Asked why the national polls should not be held any sooner, when all local level elections may over by October, the adviser said: "The local government polls will be held as soon as the voter registration is completed in localities, whereas, the national election hinges on completion and finalisation of the voter registration nationwide."

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