Hasina seeks opposition help to present ‘new political culture’

December 31st, 2008 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 31 (IANS) Riding a massive poll victory, Bangladeshi leader Sheikh Hasina Wednesday called upon the opposition, which is unhappy with the verdict, to cooperate to end “destructive politics” and jointly present the South Asian nation with “a new political culture”.She offered the deputy speaker’s office and leadership of parliamentary committees to ensure an adequate role for the opposition, despite a steam-roller three-fourths majority she won in the polls held Monday.

Making her first appearance at a press conference Wednesday noon, Hasina said: “We want to avoid destructive politics and present a new political culture to the nation.”

The Awami League chief termed poverty as the prime enemy of the country and assured people that her Grand Alliance will fight hard to get rid of the obstacle.

“Our lone enemy is poverty and we will work hard to eradicate poverty from the country,” Star Online quoted her as saying.

The first task of her government will be to bring down prices of essential commodities within the reach of the common people, she assured during her brief, 15-minute interaction.

While the Hasina-led alliance secured 262 seats out of 299 in the ninth parliamentary election held Monday, the alliance led by her arch political rival and two-term prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia could win only 32, prompting the latter to cry foul.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader accused the military-backed caretaker government now in office and the Election Commission of hatching “a plot” against her. This led to rigging in 220 polling centres in 72 constituencies, Zia said.

However, the Commonwealth Observer Group for Bangladesh parliamentary elections, one of the many foreign organisations that monitored the poll, besides 200,000 local observers, did not agree.

It did not find any evidence to justify Zia’s claim that Monday’s election was held under a “blueprint”, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency said.

South Africa’s Cassam Uteem, head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, told media: “We don’t have any evidence of election engineering. I believe that other national and international observers also did not find such evidence.”

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