Democracy 'in danger'
12:00 AM, March 22, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 AM, March 22, 2018

Democracy 'in danger'

BNP tells foreign diplomats, presents 20 'major challenges' faced by the country

The BNP yesterday presented a “grim picture of the country's democracy” before around a dozen foreign diplomats in Dhaka.

Democracy in Bangladesh is in peril, the party alleged, citing 20 “major challenges being faced by the country”.

According to the BNP, constitutional bodies and democratic institutions have been totally shattered, good governance is in exile, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and political killings are rampant, absence of accountability and transparency is acute, freedom of expression is throttled, banking sector has been looted, and the judiciary is not independent, reads a statement.

Senior BNP leaders apprised the diplomats of the country's overall situation and updated them on the legal process of having party Chairperson Khaleda Zia out of jail, said party insiders.

The diplomats included representatives from the USA, Japan, European Union, Saudi Arabia, USAID, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Turkey and the Netherlands.

A senior BNP leader, wishing not to be named, told The Daily Star that party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir presented a power point presentation before the diplomats. The meeting, starting at 4:00pm, was held at the party chairperson's Gulshan office. The statement was distributed among the diplomats later.

In his presentation, the BNP leader described about the party's “peaceful” programmes and how the government tried to stop them.

“Despite serious provocation by the ruling party leaders and the partisan law enforcement agencies, BNP firmly upholds its stance on holding peaceful and democratic programmes…” reads the statement.

The party said it firmly believed that the only way to come out of the present “political impasse” was to hold a free, fair, neutral, acceptable and participatory election under a neutral election-time government.

“We also believe that it is very much possible to find out an acceptable solution through constructive dialogues among the stakeholders concerned. And it is the party in power that is to take the initiative,” the statement read.

It also said, “We would highly appreciate active and decisive role of the international community in the restoration of democracy and ensuring justice in Bangladesh.”

The BNP told the diplomats that the party had observed peaceful and systematic programmes since Khaleda  was sent to jail.

It also informed them that the government “obstructed” all of their programmes. Showing photos published in different newspapers, the BNP leaders told the diplomats that the government was “pushing the party into the path of confrontation”.

The diplomats wanted to know about the BNP's stance on the participation in the next parliamentary elections. In reply, the party leaders said they would join the polls if held under a non-partisan interim government.

This was the second time BNP leaders met diplomats since Khaleda was sent to jail in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8.

On March 13, senior BNP leaders had a meeting with the representatives of around 15 countries at the same venue.

BNP standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Mirza Abbas, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo, advisers to the BNP chairperson Reaz Rahman, Sabihuddin Ahmed, Islmail Hossain Zabiullah, executive committee members Tabith Awal and Rumeen Farhana were present at yesterday's briefing.

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