Former Bangladesh president to form third front for polls

November 10th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 10 (IANS) Former Bangladesh president A.Q.M. Badruddoza Chowdhury has announced plans to form a third front, calling it “an alliance for change” that would steer clear of the two headed by former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina in the run-up to the Dec 18 parliamentary poll.Now heading the Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Chowdhury Sunday said he along with like-minded parties would launch the front “to uphold the spirit of the Jan 11, 2007 changeover”.

On this day, the present caretaker government took office with the help of the military, cancelling the parliamentary poll amidst turmoil and launched what it called “political reforms”.

“We are going to launch a new political front with honest, brilliant and patriotic politicians and political parties before the Dec 18 parliamentary polls to bring about positive changes in politics,” Chowdhury told reporters, flanked by leaders of five small political parties.

“The proposed alliance will be formed to rid the country of corruption, poverty, terrorism,” he was quoted as saying by New Age Monday.

The alliance will be outside the 14-party front led by Hasina’s Awami League (AL) and the four-party Islamist front of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Chowdhury, who belonged to the BNP, was ousted as the country’s president by Zia. He was part of the Hasina-led alliance till end-2006.

The other parties in the proposed front too are those who have broken away from either Hasina or Zia, due to personal problems, disagreement over policies or allocation of parliamentary seats in the past.

The Gana Forum led by jurist and former minister Kamal Hossain, Krishak Sramik Janata League led by another former AL leader and freedom fighter Kader Siddiki, Bangladesh Kalyan Party of Syed Muhammad Ibrahim and Sekander Ali’s Labour Party has expressed solidarity with the alliance.

The proposed alliance may be called Jukta Front, Bikalpadhara sources said.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has revised the schedules for both the parliamentary polls and the for upazila (sub-district), but kept the polling dates unchanged.

According to the new schedule, the submission of nomination papers for both the national and upazila polls will close Nov 20, instead of the earlier Nov 13.

While the AL and its allies are keen on the December poll, Zia and her allies have taken a hard line submitting a charter of demands.

The government has, however, committed to the world community to hold elections and it is considering how far it can meet the BNP’s demands to have the party in the election race, an adviser (minister) said.

“We will see in the course of discussions how many of their (seven-point) demands can be accepted,” Communications Adviser Ghulam Quader told reporters.

Dhaka’s diplomatic corps is taking a close look at the poll process. Envoys of seven Muslim nations, among them the UAE, Palestine, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, Morocco and Oman met Hasina Sunday.

“We hope that we are going to witness a free and fair election in Bangladesh and an environment to conduct such polls will be created,” Palestinian Ambassador Shaher Mohammad told reporters after the meet.

Dhaka has had a pro-active diplomatic corps in which the US, Britain and the European Union envoys have in the recent past emphasised on holding elections to avoid political instability and to promote business and foreign investments.

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