Vol. 5 Num 930 Wed. January 10, 2007  
Front Page

Advisers approach grand alliance with election deferment proposal
Alliance for postponing election, fulfilling their demands first

Amid the donors' enormous pressures for all-party polls and after getting a green signal from BNP, a team of three advisers of the caretaker government yesterday approached the Awami League (AL)-led alliance with a new proposal deferring the next parliamentary polls by over a month.

The three advisers placed the proposal to the AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil at a meeting yesterday afternoon.

The AL however asked the interim government to postpone the January 22 polls first and then take initiatives to meet the grand alliance's demands of creating a level playing field for all.

Sources said the three advisers -- Shafiqual Haque Chowdhury, Shoeb Ahmed and Azizul Haq, approached the AL general secretary at his Gulshan residence after getting a positive response for such a move from BNP high-ups.

The initiative by the advisers to the caretaker government appeared to be a new effort to bring an end to the political impasse in the wake of a poll boycott decision by the AL-led grand alliance.

LDP leaders Abdul Mannan and Redwan Ahmed were also present at the meeting.

In the meeting, the AL general secretary expressed doubts over the outcome of the advisers' move saying deferring the poll date alone is not a solution to the problem unless all demands of the grand alliance, including correcting the voter list and removal of Iajuddin from the post of chief adviser (CA), are fulfilled.

The AL leader also questioned the advisers about their influence and role in running the government when the CA takes all crucial decisions unilaterally.

He also asked the advisers to approve their proposal by Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed as Iajuddin was the main obstacle to implementing a number of proposals by the advisers in last three months.

Jalil told the advisers that many decisions of the advisers could not be implemented in the past due to President and Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed's partisan role, who is explicitly working to favour the BNP in the elections and if those proposals were implemented, the nation would not face the current crisis.

Sources said the advisers asked Jalil about how much the grand alliance is willing to compromise to reach a consensus about going to the elections. They also presented their detailed proposals regarding the election schedule.

After the meeting was over, Adviser Shafiqual refused to disclose details of the discussion and said, "Everybody will get to know what we talked about within two to three days."

Before the meeting, Shafiqual told the reporters that if they get a positive response from both the coalitions over the proposal, they would request the president to refer the deferral of the election to the Supreme Court.

When asked whether their move was a result of pressures from the donors, he said, "We are making these moves on our own initiative, not under the pressure of donors."

Yesterday's move of the advisers came at a time when most of the donor countries including the United States, United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) informed the caretaker government that a one-sided election will not be acceptable to the international community.

On Monday, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Patricia Butenis said the US will not consider a one-sided election a credible one. She had also expressed her frustration at the current political impasse, which she termed "a political problem, not necessarily a legal one".

Prior to the meeting with Jalil, three advisers discussed the latest political situation with three other advisers at adviser Fazlul Haq's office for nearly an hour and a half.

A similar move by the advisers was nipped in the bud on Sunday due to Iajuddin's tough stance in line with BNP's position to maintain the timeframe stipulated by the constitution.

Adviser Ruhul Alam told reporters, "The three advisers were sent as part of our effort to solve the current political crisis."

Asked to explain the contradiction between their proposal of a possible deferral of the election date and the CA's commitment to hold elections within 90 days, Ruhul said, "The 90-day timeframe the chief adviser is referring to is an administrative solution. But what we have on our hands is a political problem."

"We are facing pressures from three fronts -- the economy, the law and order and the donors," said Ruhul, adding, "If the donors don't give us the fund we won't be able to run the country."

Adviser Fazlul Haq, a former High Court judge, when asked by a reporter if there are any legal barriers to holding the elections after the stipulated 90 days, said, "If the two alliances can reach a consensus, then there are many ways to get around the situation."