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POST TIME: 6 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Oppn leaders call for ‘greater unity’
B Chy, Dr Kamal, ASM Rab, Fakhrul slam ‘govt-EC move’ to introduce EVM
Staff Reporter

Oppn leaders call for ‘greater unity’

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir seen at a discussion on ‘EVM-free Election and Political Alliance’ organised by Nagarik Oikya at the National Press Club in the capital yesterday. Independent Photo

Top leaders of opposition political parties have called for “greater unity” on the basis of minimum programmes to ensure holding the next general election under a neutral government. The call came at a discussion meeting in the city yesterday.

The leaders also vowed to hit the streets soon to force the government to hold the election under a neutral administration after dissolution of Parliament, reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC) and Army deployment during polls.

The leaders involved in the greater unity process spoke from a single podium at Jatiya Press Club. The meeting came amid speculations that the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance, Prof. Dr Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jatiya Oikya Front and Gana Forum president Dr Kamal Hossain-led Unity Process were going to announce simultaneous programmes on common issues.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Gana Forum president and convenor of national unity process Dr Kamal Hossain, convenor of Jatiya Jukta Front Prof Dr AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, and president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal ASM Abdur Rab spoke at the meeting, which was chaired by convenor of Nagarik Oikya Mahmudur Rahman.

The leaders criticised the government and the EC for their “suspected move” to introduce the electronic voting machine (EVM) system during the forthcoming polls. They alleged that the process to procure the EVM machines were taken even before a decision was taken in this regard. They also lambasted the government for holding the trial of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in camera and termed it as a violation of the Constitution.

Nagarik Oikya organised the meeting on boycotting EVM, national election and political alliance.

Speaking at the meeting, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir called upon all political parties, organisations and individuals to unite. “We are working for national unity. We call upon all to get united for the sake of the country, its sovereignty, the people and their democratic rights. We want greater unity on the basis of minimum programme,” he said.

“The independence of the country is drowning, and we should put in united efforts to rescue it,” he added.

Accusing the government of carrying out repression of opposition leaders and activists, Fakhrul termed the situation unprecedented and worse than that of the Pakistani rulers during the Liberation War in 1971.

He mentioned the reported ghost cases filed across the country to implicate BNP leaders and activists. “The government is implementing its blue print to keep opposition leaders and activists away from the election as it did in the case of our party chairperson, Khaleda Zia,” he said.

The BNP leader reiterated that the party’s demands to free Khaleda, dissolution of Parliament, reconstitution of the EC before announcement of the poll schedule, deployment of the Army during polls and refraining from the EVM system.

He claimed that the BNP had repeatedly requested the government to “shun its arrogance” in order to find a solution to the prevailing political impasse.

Gana Forum chief Kamal Hossain emphasised on the need to forge greater unity “for the sake of the nation and to uphold the values of the Constitution”.

He mentioned that the youth had played pivotal roles during all the crises in the country, including the Liberation War, and hoped they do the same this time.

Dr Kamal, also a key leader national unity process, said they wanted to forge greater unity on the basis of minimum programme to hold the next general elections in a free and fair manner and keeping it out of the influence of the government and EC.

He also said the aim of the unity was be to establish “pure democracy” in the country, which would be free from communalism, terrorism and corruption.

He further said they believed in establishing multiparty democracy in the country instead of one-party rule or monarchism.

On his part, Prof. Chowdhury said the country was passing through a crisis and they would take to the streets soon to protect the country’s independence, sovereignty and democracy. “The people have tolerated the absence of democracy for a long time, but no more. They want to establish democracy,” he added.

Terming the theory of having development without democracy as “idiotic”, he said the two went hand in hand.

He also said the country needed a qualitative change of politics, balance in power, and also a complete stop to acts of terrorism, corruption, killings and enforced disappearances.

Criticising the government for its move to introduce the EVM system, Prof Chowdhury said: “The government has been exposed as it has lost its confidence on the people and instead depends on machines”.

The former president asked the government to withdraw its restriction on holding rallies and meetings if it wanted to hold free and fair election.

JSD president Abdur Rab raised questions about the fear expressed by ruling party leaders that 100,000 people would die if the BNP was voted to power. He also called upon all political parties, members of civil society and religions to unite so as to implement the hopes and desire of the people and “remove this autocratic government”.

He termed the in-camera trial of Khaleda Zia as violation of Article 35 of the Constitution.

Rab also said there was no alternative to forging a greater national unity to remove the present government.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they were getting united on five points, including holding an inclusive and free and fair election under a neutral government, dissolution of Parliament and deployment of the Army during polls.