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Boycott today’s polls: BNP

Warns govt of ‘consequences’

Staff Correspondent

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Saturday urged the people to boycott today’s parliamentary polls and cautioned that the government would bear the responsibility of any untoward situation.
It also warned the government of consequences if it did not immediately free BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia from virtual confinement.
BNP chairperson’s advisory council member Osman Farruk at a news briefing at his house at Gulshan in the evening sounded the warning.
Branding the January 5 ‘unilateral’ election as a ‘puppet show’, Farruk urged the people to boycott the ballot today.
Asked whether the opposition would wage a movement for 11th parliamentary elections after the 10th parliamentary polls, Farruk said they did not consider what was going to take place today as an election ‘because it does not have any qualities that determine the characteristics of an election.’
He said the government should at first suspend or cancel the 10th parliamentary election and take initiatives to settle the issue of an election-time government.
Asked whether they would go to the Election Commission for the last time to stop the election, he said the incumbent EC was a ‘spineless’ institution and people did not obey it.  ‘Going to such an Election Commission is out of question,’ he added.
When two journalists of India sought his cooperation to meet Khaleda, Farruk said the opposition leader had been ‘under house arrest’. He said members of law enforcers did not allow anybody to enter her residence.
When an Indian journalist asked whether Khaleda was under house arrest, Osman said, ‘Definitely, she is under house arrest.’ He said Khaleda could not come out of her house and none could visit her. ‘Is it not house arrest,’ he asked.
He said the ‘stage-managed’ election of January 5 was viewed as totally unacceptable both at home and abroad and that was why foreign election observers had refused to come to watch the polls.
He said most of the countries of the world, including the neighbouring countries, were considering the January 5 election as a ‘big obstacle’ to peace, welfare and stability of Bangladesh.
On behalf of Khaleda Zia, he renewed the call to stop the ‘stage managed’ polls saying that ‘there is still time to take effective steps to overcome the grave crisis that has been created by the government and save the ruling party from being thrown into the dustbin of history’.
Farruk said the government had illegally kept Khaleda Zia ‘under house arrest’ but the ruling party leaders and ministers, including the prime minister, were denying it.
He said the opposition leader had been kept isolated from the people, civil society, her relatives and leaders and activists of the party.
He alleged that New York Times’ South Asian bureau chief Ellen Barry was not allowed to meet with Khaleda on Friday. Local and foreign journalists were also being barred from visiting her, he said.
He said the nation was surprised by the ruling party’s ‘falsehood’ that Khaleda Zia was not under house arrest. He asked the government to stop telling ‘lies’.

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