'New polls laws aim to control political parties'
Sunday, 24 August 2008

Staff Correspondent

The BNP has said the new electoral laws, including mandatory registration of political parties and a ban on their powerful student and labour front organisations, are designed to keep political parties on a tight rein.

The laws enforced on Thursday are aimed to reduce political parties to mere branches of the Election Commission, it said.
"By enforcing such ordinances the government wants to make political parties front offices of the Election Commission. They are doing this to control political parties," secretary general Khandker Delwar Hossain said on Friday.
He questioned if the caretaker government had the constitutional mandate to enforce the Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2008.
The interim cabinet approved the RPO last month.
Delwar made the remarks at the inaugural function of the fifth council session of four-party alliance component Khelafat Majlish at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh auditorium. Several thousand councillors participated in the council session.
"The caretaker government has no jurisdiction to frame any new law. Their responsibility is solely to hold a free and fair election in 90 days. But they are making one law after another and illegally making important state decisions."
President Iajuddin Ahmed on August 19 signed the 1972 Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 that came into force through publication of a circular on Thursday.
The new laws have provisions for "no" vote-- giving voters the option to reject all candidates on the ballot if they think no-one is suitable--
and allows a person to run for a maximum of three seats simultaneously, instead of previous five.
One needs to be voter to become a candidate and the candidate has to provide eight pieces of information.
Delwar again asked the government to release party chief Khaleda Zia and send her son Tarique Rahman abroad for treatment.
Without taking names, he said, on the one hand, the government was releasing the chief, general secretary and others of a party and allowing them to go abroad but unjustly keeping the BNP chief in confinement, on the other.
The High Court had put freezes on the trail of the cases against Khaleda and a medical board had said Tarique needed immediate treatment abroad, but the government would not let go of them.
"Such behaviour of the government is discriminatory."
He also condemned the police obstruction to the four-party alliance's planned march on Thursday to submit a memorandum to the chief adviser.
Khelafat Majlish chief Mohammad Ishaque presided over council where Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general Muhammad Qamaruzzaman, Khelafat Majlish secretary general Ahmed Abdul Quader also spoke.

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