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POST TIME: 3 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Nat’l polls to be fair sans doubt, says PM
UNB

Nat’l polls to be fair sans doubt, says PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said there is no doubt that the next general election will be held in a free and fair manner, reports UNB. "There's no doubt the election will be free and neutral... we're not here to rig votes," she said while addressing a press conference at her official residence Ganobhaban. The press conference was arranged to brief the media about the outcomes of her just-concluded visit to Nepal for attending the 4th Bimstec summit.

"We're working for people. If people vote us, we'll be there in power again, otherwise not. I repeatedly said it. I mean what I say," Hasina said.

The Prime Minister said the election must be held (in time) and no one can resist it. "No one has the capability to foil the election."

About BNP's demand for Khaleda's release, Hasina said the BNP Chairperson can be freed from jail either by the court or through presidential clemency.

"The government has nothing to do with it...she (Khaleda) has either to go to court or seek clemency from the President," Hasina said replying to a question.

On Saturday, BNP leaders at a rally in front of its Nayapaltan central office demanded the government release their chairperson Khaleda Zia to ensure the party's participation in the next polls.

The Prime Minister said she will neither take any step for bringing BNP to the election nor obstruct it from joining the polls.

"They (BNP) are saying they won't join the polls."It's their internal party decision whether BNP will take part in it or boycott it. We neither need to invite them nor obstruct them," she said.

Recalling that the gate of BNP chairperson's office was shut when she went to meet Khaleda after the death of her son, Hasina said: "On that day, I decided not to sit with them at all. There's no question of holding discussions  with them, no matter who says what, as I have a sense of self-esteem."

She said her government should have arrested Khaleda Zia when her party was killing people with arson attacks. "But I didn't arrest her at that

time. I had demonstrated tolerance.”

Regarding the unelected polls-time government or caretaker government, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh has a bad experience about it. “Once they sit in power, they don’t want to leave; we had this experience in our country.”

She said Bangladesh will follow the system practised in India and Britain.

“Only during a mid-term election, Parliament dissolved and the election is held within next 90 days of the dissolution of Parliament,” she said.

Hasina said this system had been incorporated in the 1972 Constitution of the country and it has been reincorporated in it after the High Court verdict.

As per the constitution, the election will be held after five years generally. Three months before completion of the five-year term, the election will be held, she said.

In the Constitution, Hasina said, it has been made mandatory to sit in sessions of Parliament after every 60 days except the three-month period of the election time.

“Parliament will be there, but not functional. This has been done to ensure the vacuum during the transitional period from one government to another,” she said.

No hurry to introduce EVMs

Sheikh Hasina said the electronic voting machines (EVMs) should not be imposed hurriedly as the machines need to be introduced on a limited scale in national elections.

“There’s an EVM system in many countries of the world. I was always and still I’m in favour of it. Yes, this is right it shouldn’t be imposed in hastily as it’s a matter of practice. We’ll have to examine it,” she said at the press conference at Ganobhaban.

The Prime Minister said introduction of EVMs is part of the government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision as it is a new technology.

“Well, let it (EVM) be used in some places. Let people examine gradually whether there’s any system loss here (with machines),” she said.

Hasina said if any system loss is found in assessment, the EVM use will be cancelled. “This not final words (EVM must be introduced). There’s nothing to raise so much of objections here. Let’s start using the technology on a limited scale.”

Noting that BNP is very much vocal against EVM, she said BNP does not want the EVM as they will not be able to apply their vote-rigging technique with the machines.

“They know a good rigging technique.... we’re yet to discover it,” she said adding that even election observers could not find out their technique.

Explaining the justification behind the EVM use, Hasina said now people doing their money transactions online, buying sacrificial animals, foodstuff and all other things online.

She said money is the most important thing to people, which they can send online. “If you can trust money transaction online why can’t you trust it (EVM)?”

Hasina said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed her that India developed software so that people can cast their votes using mobile phones from any place across the world. They will not require going to polling stations to exercise their voting rights, she added.

Dr Kamal, B Chy’s alliance move welcomed

Welcoming the move of Gano Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh President Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and others to form an alliance, the prime minister said it will give the anti-Awami League people a new platform to stand in.

“I welcome their alliance. Let the unity prevails... this is good. This will be a great relief for the anti-AL people,” she said.

The Prime Minister further said, “There’re two parties in Bangladesh — Awami League and anti-Awami League. The anti-Awami League people will have to have somewhere to go.”

She was addressing a press conference arranged at her official residence Ganobhaban to brief the media about the outcomes of her just-concluded visit to Nepal for attending the 4th Bimstec summit.

Recently, Dr Kamal, B Chowhdury, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, ASM Abdur Rob and Kader Siddique agreed to forge a national unity ahead of the general election.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League chief, said the new combine will be a good one at least. “We’ll contest the election. I hope they’ll also take part in the polls in alliance.”

She said there should be an alternative in the country. “I convey my good wishes to them.”

Replying to a query, the Prime Minister questioned whether Dr Kamal Hossain and his associates really want the election. “There’s a section of people in Bangladesh who always sit there thinking that if there’s any unconstitutional and unelected government, they’ll get the flag... they’ll get some importance,” she said.

Referring to Dr Kamal’s recent remarks that there will be no election in the country, she said that means they are waiting for this. “If anything happens in our country, all look at Uttarpara. This is the reality. Anything might happen. My father was killed and there were attempts to kill me in broad daylight,” she said.

The AL chief said Dr Kamal and his ‘companies’ do not want healthy democracy. “They utter democracy only in mouths but want to go to power through an undemocratic way.”

She also said a section of political parties wants to cash in on any sort of movement, even a non-political one. “I watch the movement first and allow it to advance. When I see any other party tries to capitalise on that movement, I separate the movement and the vested party stumbles on the ground.”

The Prime Minister said if anyone wants anything from her, he or she has to go for movement to realise it. “I won’t give anything without a movement. Mr Kamal and his associates have to go for a movement,” she said, adding that if they become successful in their movement and if anyone comes from Uttarpara, they will attain success.

Myanmar carrying out horrible propaganda

About Rohingya issue, the Prime Minister said Myanmar has committed a horrible thing by carrying out falsehood releasing fake photos in social media over Rohingya issue.

“They’ve committed a terrible work. They’ve tarnished their own image with this. They’ve destroyed their position at international stage,” she said.

She said the same propaganda with fake photos was also carried out by BNP-Jamaat in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Bangladesh. “My question is whether they (Myanmar) learnt the tactic from our BNP-Jamaat.”

During the Bimstec summit in Nepal, Hasina said she had talks with the Myanmar President over Rohingya issue and the repatriation agreement signed between the two countries.

Hasina said the Myanmar President told her that they are ready to take back those who want to go back to Myanmar.

The Prime Minister said she never wants confrontational situation with neighboruing country Myanmar.

She said Myanmar never denies anything, and says it will take back the Rohingyas. “But the reality is it doesn’t act accordingly.”

Responding to a question about the new government in Pakistan under the leadership of former cricketer Imran Khan, the Prime Minister said he hit many sixes in the field, now it is time to see whether he can hit those sixes remaining in power.

“We’ll be glad...He’s a player, he has the sportsmanship spirit, if he seeks cooperation, we’ll extend that. We’ll do that keeping in mind the general people of that country,” Hasina said.

Replying to another question, she said the government has brought the killers of Bangabandhu under the purview of law. “But, the investigation to detect the conspiracy and conspirators was not done... their trial didn’t take place but that should be done.”

She also mentioned that there were some research works at the international level about the matter, there’re some reports, too. “Maybe time will come when everything will surface,” she said.

Participation in Bimstec Summit highly acclaimed

The prime minister said her participation in the 4th Bimstec Summit and Bangladesh’s role in the meetings held just before the Summit in Kathmandu have highly been acclaimed by all quarters.

“In overall consideration, the Summit and other meetings were very important for Bangladesh,” she said.

The Prime Minister said in her speech at the opening session of the Summit, she urged the leaders to face poverty, adverse impact of climate change and counterterrorism and other problems in the Bimstec region with joint and coordinated efforts.

In the fast changing global scenario, Sheikh Hasina said, she put emphasis on reviewing and reorganising 14 important issues of cooperation among the member countries.

She also called upon the member countries to work together to develop the bloc as a more dynamic and fruitful organisation through reorganising the issues of cooperatives into three main clusters namely “Sustainable Development”, Security and Stability” and “People to People Contact” on priority basis, she said.

Besides, she underscored the need for formation of Free Trade Area, enhancing investment, cooperation on power sector and investment of capital.

The Prime Minister said she stressed the importance of consolidating fundamental legal frameworks to carry forward the substantive engagements in the cooperation to produce visible results.

In her speech, she said, she urged the Bimstec leaders to further strengthen the organisation and make it more effective as well as stressed implementation of the 16-point Goa Declaration adopted in 2016.

About the memorandum of understanding signed on Bimstec power grid interconnections, Sheikh Hasina hoped that it will create new areas of cooperation on electricity in the Bimstec region.

The Prime Minister said she exchanged views with leaders of the member states on further increasing cooperation on bilateral and regional issues during her participation in the retreat session of the Summit.

The Prime Minister visited Nepal on August 30 and 31 to attend the two-day summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), a seven-nation economic bloc of the South Asia and South East Asia.