Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday warned that the country and its people will face dire consequences if the upcoming national election is not held in a free and fair manner.
The eminent jurist termed the act of snatching the citizens' voting rights as an “attack” on the country's independence, saying that the attack is tantamount to “treason”.
Addressing a discussion at Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium in Dhaka, he said that the next 10 days ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls are very crucial for the future and independence of the country.
“If the election is not free and fair, there will be dire consequences -- everyone should understand this,” said the top leader of Oikyafront, the major alliance of opposition parties including BNP.
Bangladesh Human Rights Federation (BHRF), a forum of rights organisations, arranged the discussion on “human rights, good governance and right to vote”.
Referring to the prime minister, Dr Kamal said, “Tell us if you want all 300 seats, we'll oblige… Ask everyone to raise their hands and show their support for you.”
“Election has turned into a farce,” he said.
About the role of the law enforcing agencies ahead of the election, the constitution expert said, “Police are arresting people [opposition leaders and activists] without any reason... I have never seen such situation…This is truly shameful.”
Police do not have the authority to do so, he added.
“We'll consider later under which authority you're [the government] currently ruling the country, but what you're doing now is contrary to the constitution,” Dr Kamal said.
“I have never seen such misrule. If anyone calls this 'good governance', I'd say they're lying,” he added.
Speaking as chief guest at the programme, Dr Kamal urged the Election Commission (EC) to ensure people's voting rights and to use its rightful authority to resist the government if it bars the commission's duties.
He also urged the current government and the ruling party men to stop enjoying state benefits, alleging that their entitlement has crossed all limits.
About judiciary, Dr Kamal said the phrase “independence of judiciary” sounds ideal, but it will not be materialised if the stakeholders of the judicial system – judges, lawyers and the government – do not believe it in their hearts.
The Bar Association's President Zainul Abedin, Begum Rokeya University Vice-Chancellor Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah and BHRF Chairman Mohammad Shahjahan, among others, also spoke at the discussion.