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PM firm on Jan 5 polls

Asks AL to intensify street presence

Mustafizur Rahman

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday told a cabinet meeting that the parliamentary election would be held on January 5 with no change in the schedule.
‘The prime minister expressed her firm resolve to hold the election on January 5 as announced by the Election Commission,’ a senor minister later told New Age.
She asked the leaders of Awami League and its coalition partners to hold more anti blockade ‘street programmes’ across the country throughout the current month to celebrate the Victory Day, he said.
 She also said that her government would make no compromise with the Constitution in holding the election on the schedule. 
‘The government will not deviate from the Constitution,’ the minister said preferring not to be quoted. 
Hasina also ordered the home ministry to take additional measures to strengthen security against countrywide opposition blockade for holding the election,’ he said.
Nationwide communication has been paralyzed since the opposition called the blockade demanding inclusive and fair election under a non-party caretaker government. 
Sheikh Hasina also ordered the home minister to take measures against violent protests over the election and possible attacks by Jamaat in protest against the issuance of the warrant of execution of Abdul Quader Molla’s death sentence, said the minister. 
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of ruling Awami League, took the hard line in the cabinet meeting at a time when the visiting UN assistant secretary-general Oscar Fernández Taranco was holding talks with top politicians for resolving the political crisis.
Taranco is reportedly pressing for changing the schedule of election to make it inclusive.
The Ershad faction of Jatiya Party, a partner of the AL-led ruling coalition withdrew its ministers from the cabinet demanding rescheduling the election with the participation of all the political parties.
Sheikh Hasina told her cabinet meeting  that the parliamentary election would be held on the schedule, no matter which parties contest it.  
She, however, ordered the agencies concerned to make sure that the train services were not disrupted during the opposition’s blockades.
The meeting, chaired by Hasina,  approved a condolence message on the  death of Nelson Mandela.
No ministers from the Jatiya Party attended the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet approved the draft National Oceanographic Research Institute Bill, for the setting up of a new institute at Cox’s Bazaar, said the cabinet secretary. 
‘The ministers from the Jatiya Party informed the Cabinet Division that they would not attend cabinet meetings. They also did not receive the meeting folders. And accordingly we made the seating arrangements,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan later told a news briefing.
He said the Cabinet Division did not receive the resignation letters of the Jatiya Party ministers. They would remain as ministers until the President receives their resignations, he said replying to a question.
The Jatiya Party faction on Sunday said that after the prime minister declined to give them an appointment the resignation letters of all the six ministers and an adviser from the part had been sent to Sheikh Hasina by post.
No minister from the JP attended office since Sunday. 
On December 3, Ershad announced that his party would boycott the election and asked his party candidates to withdraw their nominations. 

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