AL leaves decision to grassroots leaders | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 20, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 20, 2008

Talks with Govt, Polls Without Hasina

AL leaves decision to grassroots leaders

Observes mass hunger strike today

Awami League's (AL) decision whether to participate in the dialogue with the government and the election without its President Sheikh Hasina will be based on opinions of the grassroots- and national-level committees.
How the party should go about securing Hasina's release too will be decided on the basis of the feedback from its rank and file.
AL acting general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam has already sent out letters to the district leaders, asking them to join the extended meeting slated for May 26 and come up with formal proposals on the issues.
Besides, the party has instructed its district units to submit detailed reports on the state of their organisations and that of their rivals'. It also requested them to turn in a list of the cases filed against leaders and workers during the caretaker government and BNP-Jamaat coalition rules.
“Our decision whether or not to join the dialogue will be based on the opinions to be expressed at the party's extended meeting,” AL acting general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters after a meeting of the Presidium yesterday.
The grassroots level leaders will join the Central Working Committee, Advisory Council and National Committee members, former lawmakers and representatives from front organisations to discuss the issues of crucial importance at the extended meeting.
To be presided over by acting president Zillur Rahman, the meeting would be the first in eight years. It might be extended for a day so that all participants can air their views.
“A working paper from the party's central committee will be handed to participants to help them in discussions on the issues,” AL leader Asaduzzaman Noor told The Daily Star.
This apart, AL is preparing to build up pressure on the military-backed interim administration to release Hasina before the talks, said a number of AL leaders.
As part of the preparations, the party will observe a token mass hunger strike today at district, upazila and union levels from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Senior AL leaders will be in different districts to make the programme successful. Presidium member Amir Hossain Amu will join the hunger strike in Gazipur, Abdur Razzak in Narayanganj, Tofail Ahmed and Motia Chowdhury in Munshiganj, Suranjit Sengupta in Narsinghdi, Syed Ashraful Islam in Dhaka and Saber Hossain Chowdhury in Mymensingh.
Other leaders including Abdul Mannan, Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Akhtaruzzaman will be in their home districts.
In a series of discussions with components of the 14-party combine to forge a common stance on various issues, AL yesterday sat with the Workers Party of Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the Workers Party observed that they too believe that the talks with the caretaker government would not be meaningful without Hasina's presence.
Calling for the government to lift the state of emergency and restrictions on political activities without delay, both the parties said it would be neither acceptable nor possible to hold the parliamentary election with the state of emergency still in force.
Held at Zillur Rahman's Gulshan residence, the meeting discussed the overall political situation of the country including the upcoming election, chief adviser's address to the nation and price hike of essentials. It demanded that the government release Hasina before the dialogue.
“We've agreed that the dialogue won't be meaningful without Sheikh Hasina's participation,” Zillur told reporters after the meeting.
Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon said the demand for Hasina's release is logical. He however said his party has already decided to take part in the dialogue.
AL leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Tofail Ahmed, Motia Chowdhury and Syed Ashraful Islam and Workers Party leaders Bimal Biswas, Haider Akbar Khan Rono and Fazle Hossain Badsha, among others, were present at the meeting.
In the afternoon, a delegation of newly elected committee of Dhaka Bar Association called on the acting AL chief at his residence.
At the meeting, Zillur said his party would neither take part in the dialogue nor the parliamentary election without Hasina.
“We want her immediate release,” he added.
Acting general secretary Syed Ashraf said there is no alternative to freeing her in order for democracy and rule of law to be established in the country.
He said an invisible quarter has been in control of the judiciary.
The Bar delegation, led by its President Khandaker Abdul Mannan and General Secretary Abdur Rahman Hawlader, urged AL to announce agitation programmes to free Hasina.
The Presidium, the highest policy-making body of AL, at a meeting yesterday discussed preparations for today's mass hunger strike and the extended meeting.
Briefing the journalists, Syed Ashraf said presidents, secretaries or convenors of 72 districts, 73 members of the central working committee, 41 members of the Advisory Council, 58 former MPs, members of the National Committee, 18 associate members and 109 assistant secretaries, and 10 representatives from Dhaka city AL, among others, would participate in the extended meeting on May 26.
Replying to a query, he said the extended meeting would be followed by a meeting of the central working committee, which would decide whether the party would join the dialogue with the government.
Asked about the arrest of BNP and Jamaat leaders, he said, 'It's not wise to comment on the affairs of other political parties.”

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