Parties except AL, allies float same demands

Mohiuddin Alamgir | Updated at 11:46pm on October 14, 2018

Political parties outside the ruling Awami League-led alliance have put forth similar demands such as the dissolution of the parliament, resignation of the incumbent government, a party-neutral election-time government, among others, before the 11th parliamentary elections.
Parties, be they leftists, Islamists or nationalists, while floating new alliances, have also put forward demands like formation of election-time neutral government through discussion with all political parties and other sections of the society, reconstitution of the Election Commission and no use of electronic voting machines in the national polls.
The Jatiya Oikya Front at its launching on Saturday, the Islami Andolan from its rally on October 5 and the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Bangladesh at a meeting of its secretaries on Sunday also raised their voice for deployment of the armed forces with magistracy in the 11th general elections due by January 28, 2019.
The Jatiya Oikya Front, the Islami Andolan and the Left Democratic Alliance floated in July said that past experiences showed that a free, fair and acceptable election was not possible under a partisan government.
Floating the new alliance on Saturday Jatiya Oikya Front leader Kamal Hossain said that they would wage united movements for the restoration of democracy and the voting rights of the people demanding a free, fair and acceptable election under a party-neutral election-time government.
The ruling Awami League-led alliance, however, rejected those common demands and continued reiterating that the elections would be held under the government lead by prime minister Sheikh Hasina as per the constitution.
‘All the demands are unconstitutional and we cannot agree to accept these,’ Awami League presidium member Muhammad Faruk Khan told New Age on Sunday.
He said that they could not accept the demands raised by the Jatiya Oikya Front, launched by ‘killers and extremists.’
‘I am not interested commenting on the issues and demands put forward by them,’ social welfare minister Rashed Khan Menon said.
‘They have rights to put forward their demands,’ said Menon, also the Workers Party of Bangladesh president.
‘We want to look forward what they can do and if they can wage strong movement to compel the government to resign then it is good,’ he said.
The incumbent Awami League-led government took power for the second consecutive term with 153 of the 300 members of parliament from territorial constituencies elected uncontested in the 10th national elections in January 2014, boycotted by all opposition parties demanding a non-aprty election-time government.
The 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th general elections respectively in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 were held under non-party caretaker or interim governments.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Jatiya Oikya Prakriya and Jukta Front members Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction led by ASM Abdur Rob and Nagarik Oikya launched new alliance the Jatiya Oikya Front on Saturday.
They put forward 7-point demands, including resignation of the government, dissolution of parliament and formation of election-time party-neutral government through discussion with all political parties.
The 7-point demands also include release of the jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and all political prisoners, withdrawal of ‘false’ cases, reconstitution of the Election Commission, no use of electronic voting machines in the next general elections, deployment of army with magistracy during elections until formation of the new elected government, empowerment of the Election Commission to deploy and control law enforcers during elections, suspension of all proceedings in political cases and filing of new political cases after the announcement of the polls schedule, deployment of national and international election observers without restrictions and no restriction on press and media people during elections.
The demands also include establishment of freedom of expression, press, media, social media and assembly, personal liberty and a level playing field in the elections, withdrawal of cases filed against students, journalists and protesters for the student protests for road safety and reform of quota system in public service recruitment, release of people arrested in those cases and repeal of all repressive laws including the Digital Security Act.
Left Democratic Alliance a combine of eight leftist parties from a procession toward secretariat on Sunday reiterated their demand for election-time supervisory government for a free, fair and acceptable election.
The alliance also demanded resignation of government before announcement of the election schedule and formation of an election-time government with the consent of the political parties, dissolution of parliament, reconstitution of the Election Commission and introduction of proportional representation system in the election.
The coordinator of the alliance, Saiful Haque, also the Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh general secretary, said at the rally they would continue their protests until the Awami League-led government created a level playing field for a credible election.
The people of the country would not accept any more unilateral election like the January 5, 2014 election, Saiful said.
Leaders of the alliance also said that the country lacked democratic atmosphere for a free and fair election.
Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Bangladesh at a meeting of its secretaries at Baridhara in Dhaka on Sunday decided to hold a rally in the capital for a credible and acceptable general election under a neutral election-time government.
The meeting presided over by its secretary general Noor Mohammad Kasheimi also put forward demands of dissolution of parliament and formation of election-time neutral government, reconstitution of the Election Commission, deployment of army with magistracy during elections and no use of EVMs in election, said a release.
Islami Andolan Bangladesh amir Syed Mohammad Rezaul Karim at a rally in Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka on October 5 put forward 10-point demands, including dissolution of parliament and formation of an election-time neutral government through discussion with all registered political parties.
The demands include reconstitution of the Election Commission, deployment of army with magistracy for the period between the announcement of the election schedule and handover of the power to the elected government, creation of a level playing field for all parties during elections, no use of EVMs in elections, introduction of the proportional representation system in the election.
‘People of the country did not cast their vote on January 5 [2014] elections. The current parliament has no legal base. So people will not accept an election without dissolution of parliament,’ party chief Syed Mohammad Rezaul Karim, also the pir of Charmonai, told the rally.