Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  
Front Page

Suspension on indoor politics to go soon
Law adviser also bins the idea of giving legitimacy to CG's steps by elected govt; BNP, AL speak against banning drawing room politics

Law and Information Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday said the government will lift the ban on indoor politics soon.

He also said it is not fair to raise questions right now over the legitimacy of the current caretaker government.

"We did not ban indoor politics, we rather suspended it until further notice...It has been suspended for a short time," Mainul said at the BBC Bangladesh Sanglap held at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre in the city yesterday.

"If indoor politics is not resumed, how will an election be held in the country and how will the political parties make preparations for that election?" said the law adviser.

Two senior leaders of Awami League (AL) and BNP--Abul Mal Abdul Muhith and Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed--said the present government was not right to impose the ban on indoor politics.

"The government should allow political parties to resume indoor politics as the politicians have lots of contribution for the country which should not be forgotten," said Hafizuddin, former commerce and water resources minister and a vice-chairman of BNP.

Muhith, AL Advisory Council member, said it was not right to impose the ban on indoor politics as such ban creates uncertainty in the country, which he said is not a good sign for the country.

The caretaker government on March 8 banned all types of in-house politics under the Emergency Power Rules 2007.

Mainul said the government banned indoor politics as different political parties were trying to create untoward situations and uncertainties in the country by taking chance of the caretaker government's "liberal attitude" to put it in a difficult situation.

The democratic political environment has not been created yet as the crisis was created in the form of democracy, Mainul said, adding that the democratic political environment was suspended through the declaration of the state of emergency.

He also said the main agenda of his government is to restore a proper democratic environment in the country through holding a free and fair election.

The BBC World Service Trust and the BBC Bangla Service jointly organised the discussion moderated by Kamal Ahmed of BBC Bangla Service.

Replying to a question over the present caretaker government's activities being legitimised by an elected government, Adviser Mainul said he does not believe in the very idea.

"We have already attained legitimacy of our work through the laws under the emergency rules," he said in an apparent response to AL President Sheikh Hasina's recent speech.

Prior to leaving for the US on Thursday, Hasina said if voted to power, her government will give legitimacy to the present government's activities.

Terming Hasina's speech completely "political", Mainul said giving legitimacy to the caretaker government's work is not legal and that they are not taking her speech as usual.

Muhith, also a former finance minister, said the caretaker government, which was supposed to hold the election within the constitutionally stipulated 90 days, could be in power for many days. The AL will only legitimise the caretaker government's activities beyond those 90 days.

Hafizuddin said questions of giving legitimacy to the caretaker government will be raised after observing its activities until the end.

Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir, who also attended the discussion, said there is a need for the caretaker government's activities being recognised by a future elected government, without which these activities will be treated illegal.

Asked by the audience whether Hasina's visit to the US is temporary or an exile, the law adviser said it will depend on whether the AL chief returns to the country or not.

The three other speakers, however, said they believe Hasina's visit is not an exile.

"But a radical change will obviously come in politics and there will be no chance for resorting to corruption in the name of politics," Mainul said, adding that the government will bring all corrupt politicians to book and will not allow them to continue politics if proved to be corrupt.

He said they will also not allow the black money holders to contest in the elections. "We will bring changes in politics only to create a chance for the honest and devoted politicians, who will work for the country and its people, and establish good governance," he said.

Both the AL and BNP leaders said it would be good for the caretaker government to hold the elections soon.

Hafizuddin hoped that the next election will be held after two years "when the popularity of the government will go down to zero level".

Muhith said, "The caretaker government assumed power in one winter and it should not go beyond another winter to hold the election."

Adviser Mainul said those who plundered hundreds of crores of taka through politics want the election to be held as early as possible so that they could engage in corruption again, grab land and accumulate black money. He said holding elections is the duty of the Election Commission, not the caretaker government.

On formation of the National Security Council, Mainul said the government has plans to do it but has not yet decided on any concrete form of it. The formation of the council is obviously not to be in power for a long time, he added.