Bhuiyan relates Khaleda's release to BNP unity
Saturday, 02 August 2008

Staff Correspondent

Former BNP secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said Friday if Khaleda Zia was released there would be no more division within the party.

On the proposals for party reform that arose last year, the just-released BNP leader said the party council would take a final decision on the matter after the release of the BNP chairperson.

Bhuiyan was released from jail Thursday after the High Court granted him bail in the GATCO graft case.

"If Khaleda Zia is released, there will be no division in the party, and it will contest the next election unitedly," Bhuiyan told reporters at his NAM Flat residence Friday.

Bhuiyan, a former local government minister, also lauded a High Court ruling allowing political parties to participate directly in local government elections.

A High Court bench on Thursday ruled unconstitutional and illegal the restrictions on participation by political parties in local body polls, including city corporation and municipal elections.

Bhuiyan said it was a "right" ruling as representatives of political parties contested in local elections, so political involvement cannot be stopped through law.

He added, however, that after being elected, the person concerned would have to play a non-partisan role.

Bhuiyan is still hopeful after his release about BNP unity: "I believe BNP will unite. The unity of nationalist forces is urgent."

"The party will go to election unitedly," he repeated.

BNP became divided after the promulgation of the state of emergency as a group emerged led by Bhuiyan, which came to be known as the 'reformist' faction.

Bhuiyan on June 25 last year forwarded a 15-point reform proposal that included curbing the powers of the chairperson. Bhuiyan proposed that the party chairperson should be elected for three years through a direct vote by council members, the same person cannot hold the post for more then two terms and if the chairperson is elected prime minister he/she should give up the post of chairperson.

When Khaleda Zia was arrested in September last year, she expelled Bhuiyan as BNP secretary general.

At a meeting of the party's standing committee in October, meanwhile, M Saifur Rahman was named acting chairman of the party and retired major Hafizuddin Ahmed acting secretary general.

But the so-called 'pro-Khaleda' faction carried on their activities led by the Khaleda-nominated secretary general Khandker Delwar Hossain.

Asked about the future of party reform, Bhuiyan said: "I have submitted a reform proposal to make the party stronger and more acceptable to the people. But the proposal is nothing final."

"Our chairperson Khaleda Zia was also in favour of reform. She is now in jail."

"The party council will decide whether the reform proposal will be accepted or not. The council will make decision in this regard after the chairperson gets released."

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