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     Volume 4 Issue 56 | July 29, 2005 |

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News Notes

EC meeting with 99 political parties raises questions
In an unprecedented bid, the Election Commission (EC) has taken initiative to hold a series of dialogues on voter list with as many as 99 political parties in three days. The main opposition Awami League (AL) has rejected the invitation and questioned the sincerity of the EC's initiative. AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil said on July 23 that there must be an ill political motive in the EC's arranging of the dialogue with so many political parties in only three days.
As for the EC, it has completed inviting the political parties by July 23. The move may have irked the main opposition, but the EC is all set to meet with all of them. It should be taken into notice that eighty-one political parties participated in the seventh parliamentary election in 1996. However, except BNP, AL, Jatiya Party, Jamaat-e-Islami most of the parties failed to field candidates in substantial number of constituencies. The situation was similar in 2001 general election. In the last election 33 parties declared candidature for only one seat, 10 for two and five for three seats out of 300 constituencies across the country. Of the 96 political parties granted election symbols, 41 have failed to field even a single candidate in the election.
Initially the EC decided to sit down with 96 political parties that were allocated symbols in the last election. EC changed its decision on July 23 and raised the number of parties to 99.
The decision to invite such a huge number of political parties has drawn criticism even from the EC secretariat officials. They feared that discussion with so many parties in such a brief period would only plunge the meeting in disorder.

Presidential Amnesty after Twenty-two Years
A Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) leader Mohiuddin Jintu was spared from being hanged as he was granted presidential amnesty. Jintu, an absconding convict, was sentenced to death for murdering businessmen Abdul Khaled Rana anf Firoz Al Mamun of Demra in 1982. After evading arrest for more than two decades, Jintu surrendered to a court on January 3 this year, and he managed to get the presidential pardon within 12 days.
The standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs at a meeting on July 21 slated the law ministry for not furnishing appropriate opinions on the double murder that Jintu was accused of. However, Law Minister Moudud Ahmed denied having anything to do with it. He said, "The home ministry prepared the summery and sent to the president through the prime minister. We did neither make a comment on it nor send any summery to the president."
Quoting the case summery prepared by home ministry, Moudud said that the name of the JCD leader was not in the FIR and there was no witness account against him. "The summery mentioned Jintu as a JCD leader and said the case was filed with political motive. But nowhere did it mention that the other two convicts had already been executed," the law minister said about the home ministry summery.
The AL lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta accused the government for being biased towards the accused JCD leader. He also said that the amnesty was granted for financial gains.

Fuel Going up!
Once again, the government has plans to increase the price of fuel in the country, as it has risen too high in the international market. Even though the Finance minister has confirmed this statement, he has not specified as to when this will take effect.
It seems that the fuel price hike in May could not satisfy the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), thus the government committed to make further price adjustments and accordingly increased the prices of octane and petrol. This adjustment, however, was not a hike, according to the authorities, but rationalisation of the prices of octane and petrol, which had been the same since May.
Explaining the necessity of this price hike, the minister exclaimed that if the prices of petroleum products are not adjusted, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation would lose more than Tk 3,500 crore. If, however, the global price of fuel goes down, the government will definitely go for a smaller hike.

Hospitals too need security
It is not just banks and Embassy buildings that need security guards and high-tech security gadgets to defend themselves from thugs and robbers. Last week, dacoits ransacked Al-Rajhi Hospital at Farmgate in the capital at midnight. Around a hundred youths went to the hospital at 12:30am and beat up the six ansar personnel guarding the hospital, broke the glasses and furniture inside the hospital to create panic among the patients and their attendants. They even forced several patients to leave the hospital and snatched a cell phone from an ansar and Tk 5,000 in cash from another.
The goons however left the hospital when they sensed the coming of the RAB officials. The hospital shifted the ousted patients to an extended section of the hospital.
According to an employee of the hospital, the police did not appear or deal with this situation for over two hours, even though the Tejgaon Police Station was just 200 yards away from the hospital. The duty officer of the police station termed the incident as a result of a dispute between the house-owner and the hospital authorities, adding that the matter had already been settled.


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