Hasina-Ershad alliance splits in Bangladesh

December 11th, 2008 - 2:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 11 (IANS) The ‘grand alliance’ formed between Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and H.M. Ershad’s Jatiya Party ahead of the Dec 29 poll in Bangladesh has ended over a dispute on seats.Former military ruler Ershad angrily walked out of a meeting late Wednesday with former prime minister Hasina. The two-and-a-half hour meeting ended without any consensus “as both leaders stood rigid on their points”, the website of The Daily Star newspaper said.

Ershad wanted 47 parliamentary seats for his Jatiya Party, but the Awami League was reportedly not willing to give more than 31.

It was not clear if Ershad was switching sides to Hasina’s political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, who leads a four-party alliance of Islamists, political analysts said.

Ershad had made overtures to Zia in the past. Both Hasina and Zia had combined in 1990 to organise a mass movement that led to Ershad’s ouster.

There is also a chance that the Jatiya Party might stay away from the poll.

The party’s acting chairperson Anisul Islam Mahmood told The Daily Star Wednesday evening that his party would announce shortly whether it would take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

As Bangladesh prepares to go into campaign mode after the Eid holiday, the military-backed caretaker government has announced that it will lift the national emergency on Dec 17, subject to administrative contingencies and approval of President Iajuddin Ahmed.

Lifting of the emergency, imposed in January last year when the ninth general poll was cancelled after months of political turmoil, was the unanimous demand of all parties.

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