40 Bangladesh political parties barred from polls

November 2nd, 2008 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 2 (IANS) Forty political parties, including those professing Islamist and Left extremist ideologies, have been barred from the December parliamentary polls by the Bangladesh Election Commission for failing to abide by the country’s constitution.The barred political parties include the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), which was formed by leaders of banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) with patronage from a US-Israeli lobby, The Daily Star said Sunday.

The newspaper said it had obtained a copy of the letter issued to IDP.

HuJI had attempted to kill former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and stands accused of carrying out the Aug 21 grenade attack on her rally.

Issued Oct 28, the EC letter noted that section 11 of IDP’s draft charter states that the outfit’s goal is founding a state in line with “the Charter of Medina”. This contradicts the objectives as outlined in the preamble to Bangladesh’s constitution.

According to the documents tagged to IDP’s registration forms, “The Charter of Medina, also known as the Constitution of Medina, was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 622″.

The EC letter said the charter is basically a document drawn up to “define relations between two Muslim clans and their followers in the then Medina”.

“All these are obsolete in view of the country’s existing laws, and they don’t conform to the constitution,” observed the commission in its letter.

The IDP constitution opposes women’s participation in every sector following the Shariah Law (the body of Islamic religious law). This too runs counter to the fundamentals of the country’s constitution.

The EC has, so far, not recognised the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the country’s largest Islamist party, and others who are part of the four-party alliance led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

JeI kept away from a meeting EC convened Saturday where several parties and groups participated, including former freedom fighters and military men who took part in the 1971 war of liberation.

The groups submitted documents claiming that JeI and its allies are led by those who had participated in “war crimes”, killing scores of unarmed Bengali teachers and artistes, who supported the movement for separation from Pakistan.

JeI said it was keeping away “to maintain congenial atmosphere for the polls”, New Age newspaper said.

As many as 107 organisations have applied for registration, now mandatory for seeking election to the parliament. Of these, 22 are religion-based parties.

As per the criteria laid down in the electoral laws, an organisation must have won a seat, or polled five percent of the vote in a constituency in any of the parliamentary polls since independence.

Also barred from the December polls are several Left extremist parties pursuing teachings of Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

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