Dhaka business chamber calls for strife-free polls

September 22nd, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 22 (IANS) A leading industry lobby in Bangladesh has asked political parties preparing for the Dec 18 polls to shun “politics of conflict and violence”. “Let us not miss this train,” Annisul Huq, chief of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) chief said at an Iftar party he hosted during the current Ramadan month for leaders of mainstream parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), besides professionals.

He said the federation would come up with a charter on a national consensus and hoped the political parties would follow.

“We are passing through a critical juncture and people are no more willing to recall the horrifying memories of general strikes and violence,” Huq was quoted as saying Sunday in New Age newspaper.

The announcement of the election date Saturday had brought another chance to bring about qualitative changes in politics, he said, adding: “Let us not miss this train.

“Everyone is now worried about how the next elections would be as the political parties have become people-centric, but they become simply rulers soon after assumption of office,” Huq said, hoping for a consensus among politicians on national issues.

The parliamentary election will be held Dec 18, almost two years after it was called off in January last year amidst political turmoil that had brought the economy of this South Asian nation to a halt.

“The prime need of the time is the practice of a democratic culture and mutual understanding among politicians on national issues,” Huq said.

“Shrug off conflicts and anarchy, please. Feel the pulse of the people. We want a transparent, active and conscientious parliament. We want a clear stand against corruption, accountability in the administration and an assurance of end to general and other forms of strike,” Huq appealed.

The FBCCI has taken the initiative even as efforts are being made to bring together the two warring former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.

Lawyer Rafique-ul-Huq, who is the counsel for both, defending them in courts on various graft charges, said he had initiated what he called “an innocent move” to seat the two leaders across the table.

The two leaders have agreed in principle to meet and talk, he told the gathering.

Besides politicians, the FBCCI hosted educationist Abdullah Abu Sayeed, former adviser to the caretaker government Mahbubul Alam, Rehman Sobhan of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, journalists Ataus Samad, Abed Khan, Moazzem Hossain, Matiur Rahman Chowdhury and Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, economists Abu Ahmed and Atiur Rahman and former FBCCI president Mir Nasir Hossain.

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