Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday ruled out possibilities of any early election and any talks for bringing all political parties in the next general election, saying that political parties in a multiparty democracy had the responsibility to participate in the polls.
‘The parties, who believe in democracy, will participate in the polls. It is the decision of a particular party whether to participate in the polls or not,’ Hasina said at a briefing at her official residence Ganabhaban after her three-day Cambodia visit.
Hasina, also the ruling Awami League president, came up with the remarks as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the parliamentary polls in 2014, continued asking demanding elections under a neutral administration.
She ruled out possibilities of any talks with BNP alleging that its chief in 2014 turned down her proposal for the talks.
Referring to her phone call to BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia before the 2014 elections, Hasina said that the people witnessed the misbehaviour of Khaleda Zia.
‘Yet, I made a phone call for the sake of people, but the way she behaved was unprecedented,’ she said.
The AL president said that she would take no initiative this time and BNP must participate in the polls for its interest giving an undertaking.
‘I will not pour butter in an improper saucepan,’ she said.
All opposition parties, including BNP, boycotted the January 2014 general elections demanding reinstatement of the election-time
caretaker government system.
Replying to a query about the Election Commission’s recent statement that it was ready to hold early polls, the prime minister ruled out the possibility of any early polls.
‘We are not in a dire situation that we will have to hold early elections,’ she said.
Mentioning the allegation against Khaleda of siphoning out huge amount of wealth to Saudi Arabia, Hasina said that her government would bring the corrupt to book.
It was lamentable that the news came in foreign press, not in the local ones, she said, adding that her government issued licenses to most of the newspapers and television channels now operating in the country.
Hasina also asked whether the media owners took benefit from Khaleda as they under played the news.
Newspapers reported that Khleda had wealth over Tk 500 crore in Saudi Arabia.
Claiming that her government already brought back some siphoned money, Hasina said that the money launderers would be put on trial under the existing law.
Responding to a question on a recent remark of Khaleda about granting Hasina pardon if BNP returned to power, the prime minister said she found the comment to be ambiguous.
‘I’m not quite clear whether BNP chairperson was showing or seeking mercy for her attempt to kill me launching the August 21, 2004 grenade attack,’ she said.
‘Why should I apologise to her? Rather she should apologise to the nation for carrying out the grenade attack and killing ASM Kibria along with scores of other Awami League leaders,’ said Hasina.
The prime minister said her government did not file any case against Khaleda, rather the interim government filed a dozen of cases against Khaleda.
Responding to another question over the government’s attempt to bring back BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, Hasina said that the government took an initiative to bring Tarique back to the country.
‘He is a convict. So, he must be brought back to the country one day,’ she said, adding that her government continued bilateral discussions with the United Kingdom for Tarqique’s repatriation.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader and foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali attended the briefing.
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