BNP close to forging 'greater nat'l unity'

Wants Dr Kamal at helm; 'announcement next week'
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The BNP is likely to announce its "greater national unity" among different political parties next week as leaders of several parties have “reached a consensus” on some common issues, including holding of the election under a nonpartisan government.

It has also held talks with some left leaning parties who are likely to take part in the "movement for restoring democracy", although they will not be a part of the unity process, party insiders said.

The BNP wants Gonoforum President Dr Kamal Hossain, who recently floated a platform called Jatiya Oikyo Prokriya (national unity process), at the forefront of this unity process.

The Daily Star tried to reach the eminent jurist over the phone and via text messages for his comment on the matter last night, but he did not respond.

"The unity process has almost been finalised. We are hopeful about accomplishing it by the end of this month,” BNP Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, who is involved in the unity process, said the announcement may come next week.

The BNP has finalised the draft of a seven-point demand that it wants realised together with its partners. It has also finalised the draft of a 12-point vision it seeks to achieve if voted to power, said a senior BNP leader.

The demands are dissolution of parliament before polls schedule, resignation of the government, formation of a polls-time government in consultation with all the political parties, reconstitution of the Election Commission, deployment of army with magistracy power during election, no electronic voting in the election and withdrawal of cases against political leaders.

Juktafront, Democratic Left Alliance, Gonoforum and several other political parties have also made these demands.

However, it remains uncertain if Bikalpadhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury will join hands.

Last month, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and Nagorik Oikya formed a new alliance called Juktafront, which recently forged unity with Dr Kamal's Jatiya Oikya Prokriya.

But Badruddoza was not present when Dr Kamal announced this “greater national unity” on September 15, which raised questions about the fate of the alliance.

"We welcome AQM Baddrudoza Chowdhury to join the unity process. If he does not come, he will just lag behind," said a senior BNP leader, wishing anonymity.

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a component of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, is not in this process. At the moment, Jamaat is not registered with the Election Commission, which is mandatory for political parties to contest the election.

Asked about this, several Jamaat leaders said it was up to the BNP if it wanted to forge unity with other political parties and that it would not have any impact on their 20-party alliance.

The BNP has long been trying to forge a national unity among political parties.

BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, who is in London, instructed the party leaders to complete the unity process in the shortest possible time, sources said.

As part of the process, the BNP will share parliamentary seats with its potential partners, including Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, in the upcoming election, they added.

Contacted, Nagorik Oikyo Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said major issues of the unity process have already been settled, but did not elaborate.

A senior BNP leader held several meetings with the Democratic Left Alliance leaders over the unity process. But the Alliance said although they would join movement on any common issues, it would not be a part of the unity process.

“We will not form any alliance with the Awami League or the BNP. We the Democratic Left Alliance are with the movement on the issues of election under a nonpartisan government, dissolution of parliament and reconstitution of the Election Commission. Fair elections are not possible under any partisan government,” said Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh.