Vol. 5 Num 856 Sat. October 21, 2006  
Front Page

200,000 sticks, oars ready for AL

The 14-party opposition combine is making around 200,000 sticks, oars and poles in the capital to build up resistance and paralyse the city in case the government hands over power to "BNP-partisan" Justice KM Hasan ignoring opposition's electoral reform demands.

"Each of our ward unit leaders has been asked to make 1,000 oars and poles," 14-party Coordinator for Dhaka city Mofazzel Hossain Chowdhury Maya, who is supervising the work, told The Daily Star last night.

Maya, also city Awami League (AL) general secretary, said they have made all-out preparations to protest Justice Hasan's taking charge as the chief adviser to the caretaker government.

The AL has a total of 100 ward, 26 thana and 18 union units in the capital and there are around 50 city units of the 11-party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), and National Awami Party--the AL's allies in the opposition line-up.

The AL's front organisations Jubo League, Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), and Swechchhasebak League with more than 300 city units have already directed their leaders to make at least 200 oars and poles each and exercise "maximum power" to take control of the streets on the day the government hands over power to Justice Hasan.

Jubo League Chairman Jahangir Kabir Nanak and BCL President Mahmud Hasan Ripon confirmed to The Daily Star last night that they have made preparations in this regard.

Sources said in a bid to keep the country's educational institutions closed, the BCL also plans to go for an indefinite strike at all institutions.

Sources in the opposition alliance said their leaders at different district and upazila units are also making thousands of oars and poles. Each upazila unit has been asked to prepare 10,000 oars and poles, sources said, adding that the senior leaders have also instructed for supplying several thousand oars and poles to the capital within a couple of days.

At a joint meeting with all thana, ward and union presidents and general secretaries of Dhaka city units of opposition combine, Maya directed the leaders to keep the oars and poles ready.

Sensing that the government may not accept its major electoral reform demands, including the issue of Justice Hasan, the senior leaders of the opposition combine issued secret instructions to all of its city unit leaders in this regard a few days ago.

"If our demand for electoral reforms is not met through the dialogue and if BNP-partisan Justice Hasan takes charge of the caretaker government, resistance will be built up in the capital as well as the district and upazila headquarters," 14-party Coordinator Abdul Jalil told the meeting.

Explaining the necessity of the electoral reforms and referring to Hasan's political affiliation with BNP, the AL general secretary asked the leaders to prepare grounds for building resistance against the Hasan-led caretaker government.

"You will have to make preparations even on Eid day...The time to protect people's voting rights will not come too often," he said.

Jalil said BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan told him that the government will give its final decision over Justice Hasan on October 23. "If the ongoing political crisis is not resolved through the dialogue, we will not have any alternative but to forge all-out movements to realise our reform demands."

The AL-led opposition combine sits today with all of its front organisations while all upazila and district units of its front organisations will also sit simultaneously.

As a warm-up to its movement, the opposition will stage countrywide demonstrations tomorrow before the final round of talks. Observing the day as the "reform proposals implementation day", it will hold a massive rally on Bangabandhu Avenue and bring out a procession.

Senior opposition leaders will instruct their activists from the rally.

The opposition combine also plans to go for a countrywide indefinite hartal and blockade programmes alongside marching towards Dhaka.

AL Presidium Member Tofail Ahmed told The Daily Star that they will do everything to press home their reform demands.

"Not only will the capital be besieged, resistance will also be built in villages, upazilas and districts. Indefinite countrywide hartals and blockade programmes will be announced to press home our demands," Tofail said.