No budging from constitution on elections: PMStaff Correspondent
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Sunday rejected the opposition’s demand for a non-party caretaker government saying once again that she would not move an inch from the constitutional provision for holding the general elections.
‘I will not budge an inch from the constitution. The elections will be held as per our constitution,’ she said at a press conference at her Ganabhaban residence.
The prime minister called the press conference to announce the success of Bangladeshi scientists in genome sequencing of local jute species.
She, however, skipped several questions about whether parliament would be dissolved before the general elections and whether she would lead the election-time interim government. ‘Everything will be done in accordance with the constitution,’ she replied.
The prime minister repeatedly referred to the constitution when journalists asked questions regarding different quarters’ doubt about the next polls in view of the opposition’s stance that it would not contest the election if it was not held under a ‘non-party’ caretaker government.
Hasina iterated that the next elections would be held the way it was conducted in other democracies like Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
She said there were no chances for a vacuum to develop between the dissolution of parliament and next general elections. Lawmakers immediately before the dissolution would be regarded as parliament members.
Hasina also assured the people that the next general elections would be held in time as per the constitution and they would be able to exercise their franchise freely.
Asked about BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s statement that there would be a constitutional crisis after October 25, the prime minister sought to allay such fears and said, ‘There will be no constitutional crisis. They [opposition] want to create a constitutional crisis.’
Asked about the opposition’s demand for a ‘non-party’ caretaker government, she posed a counter-question, ‘Do you want an unconstitutional government again? Do you want martial law? How can you forget what happened in 2007 and 2008?’
The prime minister said the opposition’s demand for restoration of the caretaker system meant that they did not accept the verdict of the Supreme Court that had termed caretaker government illegal. Parliament has passed the 15th amendment to the constitution abolishing the caretaker provision, she reminded the opposition.
‘Why try to cause trouble to public life by staging demonstrations for [caretaker] provision,’ she asked.
Asked if she thought elections would be fair under a BNP-led government in future, she hinted she might not accept polls under an elected government of BNP. ‘It depends on the attitude. It has been proved that elections are not held in a free and fair manner under the BNP,’ she said.
She referred to Magura and Mirpur by-elections and said that it had been proved that BNP was not capable of holding free and fair polls.
Hasina said there was no smooth transition of power after 1975 and the people had to give blood for winning their voting rights.
It is the Awami League-led government that has ensured the people’s rights by keeping no provision for taking over power by an unconstitutional government, she said.
Hasina said the party that was born out of the pocket of a military dictator could
never want the country to be administered constitutionally.
About the Padma Bridge, she said that the construction work of the bridge had already started with the government’s own funds.
She said Awami League believed in people’s empowerment. ‘In the last four years and a half the country has witnessed 5,723 credible and fair elections, including parliamentary by-polls, several city corporation elections as well as upazila, pourasabha and union parishad polls.’
Hasina said BNP-Jamaat-Hefajat was directly involved in burning copies of the Holy Quran in and around Baitul Mukarram national mosque in May 5-6.
‘Such a brazen attack on Islam had never taken place in the country before,’ she added.
Hasina claimed that her government had taken action against corruption and censured the private television channels for being too critical of the
‘We had first given licences to private television channels in our 1996-2001 tenure. Television channels have made a habit of finding faults with the Awami League in talk shows, she added.
The political crisis started brewing after the government had abolished the non-partisan caretaker government system by amending the constitution in June 2011.
Since then the main opposition BNP has been insisting that the caretaker provision should be restored for holding the next general elections ‘in a free and fair manner’.
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