Advance poll date, Bangladesh ex-premier tells government

June 19th, 2008 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 19 (IANS) Bangladesh’s jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia has demanded that the military-backed government lift emergency curbs by this month-end and advance the parliamentary poll dates to October. She questioned the government’s neutrality and said the popularity of the administration run by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed was “minus zero”, The Daily Star newspaper said Thursday.

Demanding that the emergency imposed in January last year be lifted to facilitate political activity, Zia said the caretaker government did not have the mandate to hold civic and local body elections prior to the parliamentary polls, scheduled this December.

Political analysts said Zia had become pro-active since her political rival and another former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, 61, went to the US last week for urgent medical treatment after being temporarily released for eight weeks.

Her observations were made through her lawyers during legal consultations or to the media in the course of the courtroom proceedings in graft cases she is fighting.

These are also responses to the government that wants her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to join the ongoing political dialogue to prepare for the December polls.

Zia, 62, too needs medical treatment, but has decided to stay on here. She has refused to write to the government seeking freedom or accept any conditions.

At the same time, she is putting pressure on the government to send out her two ailing jailed sons, Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko, for medical treatment.

The Hasina-led Awami League has got down to prepare for the talks with the government, a gesture Hasina showed before leaving for the US, while also talking to other parties to revive an alliance of centrist and left-of-centre parties.

Awami League leaders held bilateral talks with the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) Wednesday. Awami League acting party general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam opposed the civic polls and warned against changing the timetable for the parliamentary polls scheduled for December.

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