Oikyafront draft manifesto: Reforms ring loud
12:00 AM, December 02, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:04 AM, December 02, 2018

Oikyafront draft manifesto: Reforms ring loud

Jatiya Oikyafront would be making pledges for sweeping reforms, its draft manifesto indicated.

It would protect human rights, ensure rule of law, strengthen anti-corruption efforts, and improve governance, according to the draft the alliance's six-member expert committee is preparing.

To achieve these, the alliance, consisting the BNP and several other parties, would propose in its manifesto introducing an upper chamber of the Jatiya Sangsad, empowering the Supreme Court with full control over the lower judiciary, decentralising the administration, and relaxing restrictions on MPs imposed by article 70 of the constitution.

If voted to power in the December 30 parliamentary election, the Oikyafront would set up special tribunals to investigate alleged corruption in mega projects, utility service providing organisations, and the financial sector, said the summary of the draft manifesto.

The Daily Star obtained a copy of it.

According to the summary, the Anti-Corruption Commission would be given complete freedom to fight corruption and the Ombudsman would be appointed in line with the directive of the constitution to ensure good governance.

The controversial provision for requiring permission from the government to arrest its employees allegedly involved in corruption would be scrapped. The alliance would also take measures to bring back money siphoned off abroad, read the draft.

If voted to power, the Oikyafront government would set up an independent commission to appoint Supreme Court judges and officials in constitutional posts. The commission would have representatives from the opposition parties.

Public opinion would be sought for the commission's preliminary nominees for judges and other constitutional posts.  

High Court benches would be set up in each divisional headquarters to reduce backlog of cases, the draft manifesto said.

The alliance also wants to set up a commission to decentralise the administration. It said it would introduce city government system led by the mayor to improve service delivery.

"If the Jatiya Oikyafront is voted to power, it will run the country for the welfare of the people. The main policy in running the government will be consensus. It will refrain from any vengeance. Opinion and participation of defeated parties will be ensured in running the government," read the draft.

The Oikyafront would take measures to completely stop extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Any sort of physical torture in police custody would be stopped. No arrest would be made by plainclothes police, it read.

The Digital Security Act would be scrapped and there would be no government control, direct or indirect, of social media. People would have unlimited freedom to free speech and expression and they would be able to criticise or satirise any step of the government or any office bearer.

“Good governance, rule of law, independence of the judiciary, non-partisan administration and human rights will get focus in our manifesto,” Dr Kamal Hossain, a top leader of the Oikyafront, told The Daily Star yesterday.

Oikyafront's manifesto would focus on ensuring checks and balances, said a number of the alliance leaders. 

The expert committee is finalising the draft manifesto and it would be sent to the steering committee of Oikyafront once done. It would be in line with the 11-point goals of the alliance and the Vision 2030 of the BNP, insiders said, adding that the manifesto would be unveiled soon.

PROPOSED JS REFORMS

The upper chamber of parliament would have people of various professions, the draft said, without specifying the number of seats.

Political parties would be allocated upper chamber seats in accordance with the vote they had bagged in the polls.

Due to restrictions imposed by article 70, a lawmaker risks losing parliament membership if he or she votes against the party's decision. Following the proposed amendments of the Oikyafront, MPs would be able to vote against party decisions on any issue apart from no-confidence motion and the budget.

The draft said the posts of the deputy speaker post and some heads of the parliamentary standing committees would be given to opposition party lawmakers.

"The main function of parliament will be making laws, policies, and reviewing enforcement of those laws," read the draft.

Lawmaker would be barred from interfering in local development work.

No MP would be allowed to become prime minister for more than two consecutive terms.

OTHER REFORMS

The Oikyafront would scrap the PSC and JSC exams and introduce coordinated admission test for all public universities.

In the first year of the government, Oikyafront would take steps to hold elections to DUCSU and other student unions in public universities.

VAT would not be applicable in private education, said the draft.

Except defence, there would be no age limit to get into government jobs. There would be quotas only for backward communities and people with disabilities, the draft manifesto said.

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