Vol. 5 Num 823 Tue. September 19, 2006  
Front Page

Opposition goes all out against Hasan takeover
Hasina asks all to enforce blockade Wednesday, hartal Thursday to realise electoral reforms

Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the people to throng the capital from all over the country on the day Justice KM Hasan will assume office as the chief of the next caretaker government, to make the interim government unable to function.

"Come to Dhaka, with whatever you can in your hands, on the day the present government will step down and KM Hasan will assume office without realising our demands. We will see how Hasan-led caretaker government and Aziz-led Election Commission continue functioning," Hasina, also chief of the main opposition Awami League, roared from a mammoth grand rally at Paltan Maidan.

"We will also see how the BNP-Jamaat alliance survives then. We will see what comes out of what if Khaleda Zia hands over power to Justice KM Hasan as the chief of the caretaker government and our demands are not met," Hasina, a former prime minister, threw an apparent challenge to the ruling alliance amid repeated slogans and claps from the tens of thousands of opposition coalition activists and supporters. The tenure of the ruling alliance will be expired on October 27.

The leader of the opposition also announced a countrywide blockade of roads, railways and river communications scheduled for September 20 and a dawn to dusk countrywide hartal scheduled for September 21 in a bid to gear up the ongoing movement to realise the demands for reforms in the system of caretaker government, the Election Commission and electoral laws.

"Get ready to realise our demands," Hasina urged her coalition activists adding, "The ongoing movement have to go forward with enforcement of blockades to all types of communications including railways and highways."

The election cannot be held under Justice KM Hasan-led caretaker government and Justice Aziz-led Election Commission, she reiterated questioning the neutrality of former chief justice KM Hasan and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz.

Speaking about the mass arrest ahead of the opposition grand rally, the AL chief demanded release of the arrestees within 24 hours. "Otherwise the people will free them going to every police station," Hasina said.

In her 47 minutes speech, the leader of the opposition heavily came down on the government accusing it of completely failing to run the state, and of failures to curb skyrocketing prices of essentials, unbridled corruption, the rise of militancy, and acute shortage of power.

She promised that if the opposition coalition is voted to power it will keep prices of essentials under control, curb militancy, and increase power generation.

Hasina said the BNP-led alliance has completed all arrangements to rig the polls sensing a defeat in the next election. "For this the government does not want to bring reforms. But people will not allow it to play with their constitutional right to franchise," she asserted, referring to the February 15, 1996 election, which had been boycotted by all opposition parties and the erstwhile BNP government was forced to step down the next month.

"We want a neutral and non-partisan caretaker government in accordance with the constitution. But KM Hasan and Aziz are BNP partisans. The chief adviser to the caretaker government should be appointed on the basis of a consensus and the Election Commission must be reconstituted to ensure free and fair election," Hasina said.

Narrating the government's indifference to the issue of electoral reforms and the opposition movement for more than a year, the leader of the opposition said the government has been dilly dallying with the proposals for electoral reforms and tricking the people with proposals for a dialogue.

"If our demands are not met, you [the people] be ready and come to Dhaka from villages, upazilas and districts with oars, rowing poles and with whatever you have when I will call you," Hasina instructed her coalition activists in an apparent bid to build a resistance against the next caretaker government which will most possible be led by Justice KM Hasan, and against the EC led by Justice MA Aziz.

"If I now ask the people to go to the residence of the prime minister to ask whether she will accept the demands for reforms, you (the prime minister) will not find a way to escape," Hasina warned Khaleda.

"Come and see whether the people with us are for the reforms," she urged the prime minister adding, "It is not possible to hold down the people's strength."

The leader of the opposition demanded transparent ballot boxes in polling stations, a voter list with photographs of the voters, cancellation of appointments of district, upazila and thana election officers who were appointed on political considerations, and restoration of the previous provisions in the election laws regarding duties of the law enforcers during an election by repealing the provisions introduced during the last caretaker government.

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