Bangladesh opposition threatens to boycott Dec polls

October 11th, 2008 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 11 (DPA) Bangladesh’s opposition Awami League party Saturday warned the country’s military-backed administration that it might stay away from the general election unless the prolonged state of emergency is lifted beforehand.The party, at a meeting of its policymaking central working committee, also asked the government for the “immediate and unconditional” release of party chief Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who is now paroled for medical treatment abroad. It also asked the government to ensure Hasina’s participation in the polls slated for Dec 18.

Hasina, a former prime minister, was released on parole for medical treatment June 11, 2008, nearly a year after the military-led joint forces detained her July 16, 2007 in Dhaka.

She had been implicated in five graft cases since the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed took over in early January 2007. Ahmed’s administration took power in 2007 after a state of emergency was imposed following widespread political turmoil.

The government has insisted that the election will be held under the Emergency Powers Rules, under which more than 100 leading politicians have been convicted by special courts.

Media reports have said that the government was remaining firm in its attempts to keep many leading politicians out of the election.

Major political parties, however, have been asking the authorities to shun the so-called “minus theory” path and lift the state of emergency for the sake of a credible election and a transition to democracy.

The Awami League resolved that a free and fair election would not be possible under the state of emergency, adding that it would be the government’s fault if any party stayed away from the polls.

“We are in favour of elections, and it must be held in a free and fair atmosphere,” said Syed Ashraful, the Awami League’s acting general secretary.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the other major party of the country, also has asked the government to lift the emergency and stop maligning politicians.

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