Opposition political alliances and parties on Thursday rejected the schedule for the 11th Jatiya Sangsad elections announced by Election Commission while ruling Awami League and former army dictator-led Jatiya Party welcomed it.
Immediately after announcement of the schedule, leaders and activists of AL and its front organisations brought out celebration processions at places of the country including in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna, New Age correspondents reported.
In an immediate reaction, AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif at the party president’s political office at Dhanmondi in Dhaka said that the election would be held as per the announced schedule and expected that all the political parties would join the election in a festive mood.
Jatiya Party secretary general Ruhul Amin Hawladar in an emergency press conference at his Gulshan residence welcomed the schedule and thanked all concerned including the chief election commissioner.
He said that the people were happy and expected that a fair election would be held as per the election schedule.
Opposition political alliances and parties, however, said that the announcement of the election schedule despite protests from opposition political quarters reflected the government’s will and it was aimed at holding a unilateral election.
They also said that Election Commission should have waited for the schedule until the political parties reached a consensus over holding free, fair and credible elections as talks were going between political parties and alliances with prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina.
‘The Election Commission announced the schedule for the 11th Jatiya Sangsad elections at the government’s will,’ said main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Talking to journalists after a meeting of the BNP-led alliance at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office Thursday evening, he said, ‘The election schedule was announced only to hold a unilateral election’.
‘It did not reflect the will of the people,’ he added.
‘We, from Jatiya Oikya Front, met with the commission and demanded deferral of the schedule announcement.’
‘But without reflecting the people’s expectation, the election schedule was announced only to hold a unilateral election,’ Fakhrul observed.
‘Our position is clear. Any election without the people’s expectation will not be accepted by the people,’ Fakhrul said.
Fakhrul, also the spokesperson of opposition political alliance Jatiya Oikya Front, said that they would announce their position later.
JOF earlier on Tuesday at a public rally in Dhaka warned that they would march towards the Election Commission if the schedule was announced on Thursday.
The front, coming out from a dialogue with prime minister and Awami League president Hasina, said that they would remain firm on their decision of marching towards EC, without any date.
Nagarik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, also a top JOF leader, said the schedule was totally unacceptable and it was designed and aimed to keep the opposition parties out of elections.
‘The schedule is designed in a way so that we cannot take part in the elections,’ he told New Age.
He said announcement came amid demand for deferring the schedule and during ongoing talks with the JOF and Sheikh Hasina.
‘It’s designed in a tight way only with an aim to keep the opposition parties out of the elections,’ he said.
Manna said the JOF programme to march towards EC would be held.
The date will be announced after the JOF’s Rajshahi rally, he said.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim said that the hurried announcement of the schedule by the EC proved that the ruling Awami League wanted to hold another unilateral elections like the one of January 5, 2014.
‘The Election Commission hurriedly announced the election schedule, which will not be acceptable to political parties,’ he told New Age.
‘When Sheikh Hasina held dialogue with the opposition political parties and said that talks would continue, such hurried announcement of election schedule would hamper the outcome of the dialogue’, Selim said.
‘Moreover, the political parties will get only 11 days for setting party candidates in the elections and most of the parties will not be able to complete the nomination procedures,’ he added.
‘The hurried announcement of the schedule by the EC proves that the ruling Awami League wants to hold another unilateral election,’ Selim said.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khalequzaman said that the Election Commission had made the decision of announcing schedule ‘unilaterally’ without discussing with the political parties.
‘The EC should have waited for the result of the dialogue of the prime minster with the political parties,’ he told New Age.
‘The hurried announcement of schedule would tarnish the image of Election Commission,’ Khalequzzaman said.
Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki said that Elections Commission should have waited until the political parties reach a consensus.
‘Such a harried and unilateral schedule announcement may increase political crisis in the country,’ Saki told New Age.
Jatiya Oikya Front senior leader and executive president of Gono Forum Subrata Chowdhury said that Election Commission’s ‘unilateral’ announcement of polls schedule was ‘unexpected’.
‘Before reaching a consensus after holding the dialogue, the Election Commission unilaterally announced the schedule of the election,’ he told New Age.
Chief election commissioner on Thursday evening announced that the elections would be held on December 23.
The candidates have to submit the nomination papers on November 19 and the last date of the withdrawal of candidature is November 29, according to the schedule.
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