AL seeks int'l support to put pressure on govt
Sticking to its position of not taking part in the parliamentary elections with the state of emergency enforced, the Awami League (AL) is trying to mount pressure on the caretaker government with the help of international community to have the emergency lifted.
The AL will hold the final round of talks with the government soon and make the party's position clear about the December polls under the state of emergency.
Even though the August 4 polls to four city corporations and nine municipalities were held in a free, fair and peaceful manner with the emergency in force, the AL policy makers believe the situation would not be the same during national elections.
Sources said the AL would want the international bodies to mount pressure on the government so that the government lifts the emergency ahead of the elections scheduled for December. The party has already held a series of meetings with different international bodies and diplomats in this regard.
AL held meetings with the European Parliament members, USA, UK, Canadian and Chinese diplomats, International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) during the last few days to ask them to put pressure on the government.
Talking to The Daily Star a senior AL leader said even though a number of diplomats said that the national elections would not be free and fair under the emergency, they are still confused. "We will continue to talk to them in this regard and talk to the United Nations and the Commonwealth parliament members," he said.
A few AL leaders also told The Daily Star that if the government did not have any motive centring the national polls, they would have had no objection to national polls under emergency. Since the government has repeatedly asked voters to vote for a certain kind of candidates in the name of "honest and competent candidates", it clearly indicates that the government has an intention with the polls, a senior AL leader said asking not to be named.
By holding a free and fair city corporation poll, the government has gained the international community's confidence that it is possible to hold national polls with the emergency enforced, the leader said, adding, "We are not falling for that."
AL acting General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said, "We have taken part in the city corporation elections with the emergency enforced, but we will not do the same in the parliamentary elections."
"If the emergency is not withdrawn, the fear factor will remain and the national election will not be free and fair," said AL Presidium Member Suranjit Sengupta adding that political rights cannot be restored keeping the fundamental rights suspended.
Talking to The Daily Star he said, "We will hold the final round of discussion with the government very soon to make our position clear."
"We will continue to be proactive in our engagement with the caretaker government and we hope they will be constructive in their approach and create an environment that leads to the election and lifting the emergency well before the announcement of the election schedule," AL Organising Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury told The Daily Star.
Saber, also political secretary to party President Sheikh Hasina, said there is a political process leading to election day and the environment in which the political process goes on is as important as freedom with which voters cast their votes on the election day. "And the election is not a technical event confined to the day of polls," he added.
However, Jatiya Party (JP), a component in the AL-led grand electoral alliance, is planning to get all political parties to have one common stance over the state of emergency.
"We and all political parties want to reach a consensus through discussion on the issue of emergency and then decide on taking part in the polls with or without the emergency enforced," JP acting Chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud told The Daily Star.