BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday said she would not say anything about Sunday's national election.
She said this when reporters asked her about the election after a hearing of the Niko graft case at a makeshift court inside the Old Dhaka Central Jail.
As she was being taken back to her cell in a wheelchair, she said, “My legs ache too much.”
During the hearing, she told the court, “I won't come to the court if it sits at a place like this. The court can't run here. Our people can't come here. Give me sentence if you want….I won't come to this court.”
Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman of the Special Judge Court-9 of Dhaka said, “Start the charge hearing afresh as I am new in this case. I will hear everyone's speech.”
After that, Public Prosecutor of the Anti-Corruption Commission Mosharraf Hossain Kajol read out the charges against Khaleda and 10 others.
BNP standing committee member Barrister Moudud Ahmed, an accused in the case, told the court, “We are yet to get the documents stating the allegations against us although we have applied for them before. We need to read those documents to be able to fight the legal battle.”
He also said the setting of the court was not appropriate for holding a trial as there was no proper seating arrangement for lawyer and others.
Prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain Kajol argued that the defense was trying to delay the charge framing by saying those things.
The court fixed January 13 for the next hearing.
The judge also kept a petition in the case file submitted by Attorney General Mahbubey Alam on November 22 last year seeking permission to produce an FBI agent and two Canadian police as witnesses before the court to testify.
On December 9, 2007, the ACC filed the case with Tejgaon Police Station accusing Khaleda and 10 others of abusing power to award a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko.
The newly elected parliament members will be sworn in tomorrow and the new cabinet may take oath on Sunday.
A number of ministers informed this to journalists yesterday.
Talking to reporters during a dialogue with Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the newly elected MPs would be sworn in tomorrow.
The government would formally announce the date, he said at the media centre of his secretariat office.
The gazette on the MPs-elect was published yesterday.
The minister also said the Jatiya Party would be the main opposition in parliament. “The party can also take part in the new government if the prime minister offers them and they accept it.”
Inu said the Awami League-led Grand Alliance is the people's alliance and it has won the national election by a huge margin as it has tried to work for the people.
About the rejection of polls results by the BNP, Inu said the party did so as “part of its conspiracy”.
Seeking anonymity, a senior AL minister told The Daily Star that the new cabinet would be sworn in on Sunday.
However, AL General Secretary Obaidul Qauder yesterday said the process to form the new government was likely to be completed by January 10.
Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, was talking to reporters after placing wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in the city's Dhanmondi.
“After the oath-taking of the new MPs, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will meet the president. The president will then request the prime minister to form the government.”
Asked about the Jatiya Oikyafront's decision not to take oath, Quader said, “The Election Commission will deal with the issue. Everything will be done according to the constitution. If any candidate fails to take oath, the Election Commission will take necessary steps in line with the constitution. A new schedule will be announced for holding a by-election in that constituency.”
The minister said he still believed the Oikyafront, led by the BNP, would not “disobey the people's verdict”.
“Earlier, they had made a mistake by boycotting the 2014 general election. Whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied [with the polls results], it is their party's matter. But I hope those who have been elected MPs this time will not show disrespect to the people's verdict by not taking oath.”
The minister said many democratic countries have started congratulating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “If they [BNP] do not participate in the democratic process, it will not remain halted.”
Quader urged AL leaders, activists and supporters not to be revengeful to the opposition men and behave with them carefully.
In the December 30 parliamentary, the AL-led Grand Alliance won 288 seats against the BNP-led Oikyafront's seven.
Three independent candidates also became victorious.
The election in Brahmanbaria-2 was suspended as voting at three polling centres was suspended over violence. Polling in those centres will be held on January 9.
Polls in Gaibanda-3 were rescheduled for January 27 following the death of a candidate.
BNP leaders elected in the 11th parliamentary polls will not take oath as they have already rejected the results, alleging various irregularities including ballot stuffing and ouster of opposition polling agents from voting centres.
The party rather demands a re-election under a non-partisan interim administration, saying it has been proved that a free and fair election is not possible under a partisan government.
The BNP took the decisions in principle at a meeting of its standing committee at the party chairperson's Gulshan office, a day after the polls saw it win five seats while its ally Gonoforum two.
Replying to a query whether the lawmakers-elect from the BNP will take oath, party's General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We have rejected the polls results. We will also continue our legal battle and action programmes.”
Fakhrul, who secured Bogura-6 constituency, said this election proved that a credible election is not possible under any partisan government.
“The government using state machinery conducted such a farcical election that I think it is the most stigmatised election in the country ever,” he said at a press conference after the standing committee meeting.
He also alleged that most of the new voters were denied their right to vote on Sunday.
In a press statement, Gonoforum chief Dr Kamal Hossain said all the opposition candidates, including those of Jatiya Oikyafront, will submit memorandum to the Election Commission on Thursday demanding fresh polls.
They will also announce their next course of programme on that day.
“Countrymen witnessed and perceived it well how a farcical drama was staged in the name of election on December 30,” read the statement.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League and its loyal Election Commission have shown the world how to destroy the election system of an independent and sovereign country.”
Dr Kamal said though the polls results show the ruling Awami League is the winner, actually 17 crore people of Bangladesh have lost. “Through it our much expected democracy has been buried.”
'MOST BIASED PERSON'
Terming Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda the most biased person, Fakhrul said, “He [Huda] is a partisan person and his activities were questioned .... his view reflects the government's. He represents the government.”
At a post-election press conference yesterday, CEC Huda ruled out the opposition demand for a fresh election scrapping Sunday's parliamentary polls.
Fakhrul came down heavily on the CEC also for his comment that what can he do if BNP's agents do not come to the polling centres.
“This government using the state machinery barred our polling agents from going to polling centres. In my constituency, there were 100 percent presence of our polling agents but they were driven out.”
He said the party is now collecting all the evidence of vote rigging and then “we will move forward after talking with alliance partners”.
Alleging that “election engineering” was planned days ahead of the polls, he said its implementation began on December 29, the day before the election.
“Many now question why we participated in the election even after arrest of and attacks on the opposition leaders and activists,” Fakhrul said.
Explaining his party's position, he said, “We want to say clearly that we are a democratic political party and believe in transfer of power through peaceful election. We participated in the election to have democracy restored.”
Alleging that ruling party activists launched attacks on the opposition men after the election, Fakhrul said, “After the election, houses of opposition leaders and activists were attacked and set on fire.”
He claimed that since the announcement of election schedule, more than 21,000 opposition leaders and activists were arrested.
Election Commission (EC) Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed today said the 11th parliamentary election held on Sunday will remain as a ‘bright example’ in national life.
“This is a huge event in the history of Bangladesh as the voting to the 11th parliamentary election took place in a very free, fair and peaceful environment under a political government,” he told reporters at the EC Secretariat here on the outcomes of the election.
He said many local and foreign observers have expressed their satisfaction over the voting.
Helal said the Awami League-led Grand Alliance gained a massive victory in this election to run the government for a straight three terms.
He also informed the media that so far the results to some 298 constituencies out of 300 have been announced since the election to three centres at Brahmanbaria-2 has been withheld. “There’ll be re-voting in these three centres.”
In Gaibandha-3 constituency polling was postponed as Dr ATM Fazle Rabbi of BNP-led 20-party alliance candidate died of old-age complications.
The EC Secretary extended gratitude to all the political parties, including Awami League, for taking part in this election amid festivity.
He said the Commission was taking preparations over the last one year to hold the election in a successful way and in this process they prepared voters list, completed delimitation of 300 constituencies, appointed the returning officers and assistant returning officers after announcement of the polls schedule, and held meetings with political parties.
Helal Uddin said about 15 lakh polling officials and members of law enforcement agencies were engaged to help hold the election in a free and fair manner with the participation of some 39 political parties and 1,846 candidates.
This election was a huge event in national life except some sporadic incidents as the EC has stopped polling at 22 centres for sporadic clashes and incidents out of the overall number of around 40,000 centres, he said quoting Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda as saying.
About the EVM use in voting, the EC Secretary said EVMs were used in six constituencies and there were curiosity, interest and anxiety over the use of these machines.
“But, we’ve been able to successfully use the EVMs…we’ll use EVMs in the upcoming elections. We will consider on how to get the results from these EVMs much earlier in the future,” he added.
Helal Uddin said the Commission is yet to calculate the overall percentage of votes casted in this election, adding their next big task will be to publish the gazette notification of the election results.
“Thus it will hand over it to the Speaker of Parliament for taking next steps and proceedings.”
The EC Secretary congratulated the Awami League for gaining the overwhelming victory side by side thanked the other political parties to cooperate with the EC for holding this election successfully.
The parliamentary election of Kishoreganj-1 constituency will be held on February 28.
Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed announced the schedule at a press briefing after a meeting at the Nirbachan Bhaban this evening.
The constituency has been vacant since January 3 as Syed Ashraful Islam, also former public administration minister, passed away at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok.
His death came just four days after he was elected MP in December 30 parliamentary election from Kishoreganj-1.
The EC Secretary also said the election will be considered as the fresh election as newly elected lawmaker from the seat Syed Ashraful Islam died before taking oath.
As per the schedule, the last date for submission of nomination paper has been fixed January 31, while nomination scrutiny on February 3 and last date for nomination withdrawal on February 10.