Vol. 5 Num 816 Tue. September 12, 2006  

Govt should move toward reforms
Hasina tells journalists

Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government would have to play role in bringing reforms in the caretaker government system and in the Election Commission (EC).

She also said no free, fair and neutral election could be held under the current Election Commission (EC) and the probable head of the caretaker government Justice KM Hasan.

"Even though we placed the reforms proposal in order to protect people's right to vote, the government has long been sitting on the reforms issue," Hasina also the president of the main opposition Awami League (AL), told newsmen emerging from a meeting of AL Parliamentary Party (ALPP) at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

Chaired by the AL president, the one-hour ALPP meeting discussed different issues including electoral reforms, assault on leading opposition leaders and NGO employees, mass arrest, price hike of essentials, militancy, killings in Phulbari and corruption of the BNP-Jamaat coalition government.

The AL chief said the government would have to accept the reform proposals as no free, fair and neutral elections would be held under the current EC, which she termed 'the B-team' of the alliance government.

She also termed Justice KM Hasan partisan of the ruling BNP. "Justice Hasan was international affairs secretary during BNP's rule and he is not a neutral person. It is mentioned in the constitution that a caretaker government has to be non-partisan in order to ensure free, fair and neutral general elections," the former prime minister added.

Saying the EC has drafted a false voter list only to steal votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Hasina demanded transparent ballot boxes and voter list with photographs.

Hasina also demanded the withdrawal of the powers the law enforcers were given before the 2001 elections and restoring the rules under which the 1991 and 1996 elections were held.

Saying the attack on AL leaders Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Mohammad Nasim and Hazi Mohammad Selim were attempts to kill them, the AL president also termed the law enforcers' mass arrest of her party workers an 'autocratic step'. Mass arrest ahead of any political party's programme cannot be the behaviour of any democratic government, Hasina added.

Castigating the ruling BNP for wholesale arrest of Proshika employees, the AL president asked the prime minister why they were torturing the NGO workers.

Protesting the Phulbari killings, Hasina said the then BNP government signed the treaty with Asia Energy Corporation in 1994 and alleged BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain is taking money from the company.

Hasina accused the government of patronising different militant outfits including the banned Harkatul Jihad (HuJi) and said the government is keeping the arrested militants in a safe house to protect them.