Vol. 5 Num 530 Wed. November 23, 2005  
Front Page

23pt common nat'l programme announced

The mainstream opposition parties under the banner of 14-party opposition coalition yesterday announced a 23-point common minimum national programme that pledged to establish a democratic country free from communal politics and extremism.

Awami League (AL) general secretary also co-ordinator of the 14-party coalition, Abdul Jalil, read out the programme amid thunderous applause and repeated chanting of slogans from the audience at the Paltan Maidan rally.

The common minimum national programme is the pledge of the 14-party coalition on what it will do if put in power. As the programme was spelled out, jubilant supporters raised their hands, shouting slogans in support to it. Following is the detail of the common minimum national programme:

1. A secular democratic government will be established through free and fair elections that will be held after bringing reforms in the caretaker system of government and the Election Commission on the basis of the guidelines announced on July 15, 2005. The elections will be free from black money, violence and communalism. People will not accept any election without reforms in the caretaker system of government and the Election Commission.

2. The country will be freed from chauvinist communal forces and militants. Such forces will be removed from all levels of the government and administration. Trials of war criminals will be held and there will be a ban on communal politics. Freedom to practice religion, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience will be ensured. The verdict of the Bangabandhu murder case will be executed. Perpetrators responsible for all grenade and bomb blasts, including the one on August 21, 2004 and the one on the British high commissioner, will be brought to book. All training camps of Jamaat, Shibir and other militants will be identified and eliminated.

3. People are the owners of all resources and power based on this principle supremacy of the constitution will be established in running of the country. Rule of law will be established, all laws contrary to the fundamental rights of the people will be scrapped, steps will be taken to stop extra-judicial killings, and the judiciary will be separated from the executive branch of the government.

4. The parliament will be the centre of all activities. Accountability of the government will be ensured. Elections to district and upazila councils will be held within a year of the formation of the new government. Autonomous local governments will be strengthened and empowered properly.

5. Criminals and their godfathers will be identified and will be brought to book. They will not be accepted as members of any political party and no party can nominate them in the elections. A healthy political environment will be ensured by stopping political corruption and criminalisation.

6. A system will be introduced so that all ministers, lawmakers, politicians and bureaucrats disclose the accounts of their assets. Their accounts will be monitored in order to ensure that corruption is rooted out from all spheres of the state and the society. The Anti Corruption Commission will be made effective. Those found to be guilty of corruption, and the loan defaulters will be dealt with sternly.

7. Prices of essentials, including of rice, pulse and oil, will be brought back within the people's reach. A price regulating authority will be established. Rationing system will be introduced for the poor and the low-income group. Tariff for utility services will be kept stable. The famine in the northern region and food crisis in other parts of the country will be dealt with. Food security will be ensured for all. Water logging, a long-standing problem in the south-western part of the country, will also be dealt with.

8. All closed mills and factories will be reopened. Pragmatic measures will be initiated for protecting garment industries. A national minimum wage will be announced for workers irrespective of the sector, and an environment conducive to more local and foreign investment will be ensured.

9. A national programme will be initiated for removing poverty. There will be specific allocation in the national budget for poverty alleviation. Slum dwellers, vendors and rickshaw-pullers will not be evicted without proper rehabilitation. Government land will be distributed among the real landless people.

10. All able citizens of urban and rural areas will be registered in order to remove unemployment, pragmatic steps will be taken so that at least one youth from every family comes under the "employment guarantee scheme".

11. Prices of agri-inputs will be lowered and fair prices for agro-products will be ensured. There will be also subsidies in agriculture, employment for agri-workers, effective measures for agri-rehabilitation and land reform.

12. State, social and financial honour for the freedom fighters will be ensured.

13. Gender disparity will be eradicated. The national women development policy of 1997 will be reinstated. Direct elections will be held for reserved women's seats in the parliament, while representation of women at all levels will be ensured.

14. Demands of teachers, engineers, physicians, journalists, lawyers and other professionals will be implemented.

15. The "unified" education system of the BNP-Jamaat led alliance government will be scrapped and steps will be taken to implement science-based identical education policy. The commercialisation of education as well as violence on educational campuses and politicisation of educational institutions will be brought to an end.

16. Healthcare for all will be ensured. Community healthcare centres will be introduced.

17. The radio and television will be freed from control of the government while a free flow of information will be ensured. Non-communal cultural practice will be encouraged to flourish while vulgarism will be checked.

18. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord signed during Awami League rule in 1997 will be implemented. Rights of the adivasis (indigenous people) of the plain land will also be ensured. All discriminatory laws will be scrapped. Tough laws against communal violence will be enacted.

19. Best use of gas, coal and other natural resources of the country will be ensured. Domestic and foreign investment will be encouraged through transparent policies. Security of national energy will be ensured. Chittagong and Mongla ports will be developed as South Asian ports.

20. Emphasis will be put on regional cooperation in sharing the water of international rivers, water management, flood control and hydro-electricity.

21. A national defence policy will be formulated and implemented through discussion and peoples' participation.

22. A policy of regional cooperation will be followed for reducing trade gap, curbing of cross-border terrorism, and for bringing peace along the border.

23. 'Friendship with all, malice to none" will be the motto of the foreign policy.

Reading out the common minimum national programme, the opposition coalition leaders pledged that they will begin the work of bringing reforms in the country, in the administration and in the society based on the programme.

"We are committing that we will continue our united effort for overall welfare of the country and we will be firm to realise the commitments made before the people," the programme declares.

The programme also details the 'failures' of the BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government that include rise of extremist groups under government patronisation, price spiral of essentials, rise of unemployment, bomb and grenade attacks, rendering of the parliament ineffective, destruction of the administration and judiciary through politicisation and nepotism, and extra judicial killings. It also accuses the prime minister, her cabinet members and Hawa Bhaban men of unabated corruption. It says government closed most of the state-owned mills and factories leaving thousands of people jobless.