Democracy depends on local polls: Abdur Rab
Saturday, 28 June 2008

Convenor of Unity for Political Reform (UPR) ASM Abdur Rab asked for upazila elections to be held by October, at a press conference Friday, saying all local government polls should be held before national elections in December.

People want change, their empowerment is at stake, he said.

"People's empowerment has been neglected for the last 36 years for the sake of party, group and family interests."

Holding local government elections, including upazila elections, would remedy the situation, Rab said.

Also speaking at the press conference on local governance, held at the National Press Club, was UPR coordinator Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury.

Zafarullah urged the major parties to move away from their negative stance against holding local polls ahead of national polls.

"The perception that the parliamentary elections would be delayed or hampered if the upazila election was held first is not right. There is no logic behind it," he said.

"We think if the upazila system is not strengthened the base of democratisation will remain weak."

Member secretary of the organisation MA Gofran read out a written statement at the press conference.

The statement called on all political parties and organisations to come forward for the upazila elections.

It said there was no alternative to local government for improving the quality of democracy, eliminating the gap between towns and villages and for balanced development.

UPR criticised the role of big political parties in the last 16 years, stressing again that holding upazila elections—keeping the schedule for national elections unchanged—was of utmost urgency.

The organisation called for re-establishing the four-tier local government system (ward, union, municipality/upazila, city/zila), formation of strong metropolitan government in big cities and giving the local government institutions the power to prepare their own budget including imposition of taxes.

"People want change, reform," Abdur Rab said.

"But the political parties have not shown any interest in reform. In our country the democratic path has not been followed because of its leaders."

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