Support for ban on front bodies, foreign wings of political parties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 29, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 29, 2008

Support for ban on front bodies, foreign wings of political parties

Political leaders and civil society members yesterday extended their support for the caretaker government's move to ban front organisations and foreign chapters of political parties.
They termed the provisions in the Representation of the People Order (RPO) in this regard appropriate for bringing qualitative changes in the country's politics.
At a roundtable discussion titled "Representation of the People Order and political thoughts" at the IDB auditorium in the city, they also praised the RPO provisions that ban war criminals from taking part in any election and provide for the "no vote" option in the ballot paper.
Observing that the parliamentary election would not be acceptable without participation of the Awami League (AL) or the BNP, the speakers urged the government to reach a consensus with major political parties to hold a free, fair and credible election.
"It was a right decision to ban the front organisations and foreign chapters of political parties and there is no alternative to this to practise healthy politics in the country," said former adviser M Hafizuddin Khan. The foreign chapters of political parties tarnish the country's image abroad, he added.
Addressing the discussion as chief guest, he said in no country of the world political parties have front organisations and foreign chapters.
"There will be no acceptability of the election without the participation of either the Awami League or the BNP," he said.
Hafiz also called for reviewing the provision for NGO officials' taking part in local body polls.
Former adviser ASM Shahjahan, adviser to BNP chairperson Mofazzal Karim, former AL lawmaker Promod Mangkin and Fema President Firoz M Hasan, among others, took part in the discussion moderated by media personality Muhammad Jahangir.
The Coordinating Council for Human Rights in Bangladesh (CCHRB) organised the event where its President AHM Noman presented a keynote paper. CCHRB Director advocate Muhammad Shamsuddin delivered the inaugural address.
ASM Shahjahan said the government must reach a consensus with political parties to solve the present crises and implement the electoral roadmap.
Urging the government to engage in talks with political parties regularly, he said reforms are not something to impose. He called upon the political parties to carry out necessary reforms to get registered with the Election Commission.
Shahjahan observed that the new electoral laws have only increased complexities. The existing laws are enough to deal with elections if those are implemented, he said.
He, however, opposed the provision for "no vote" and said in democracy there should not be any option for "no vote".
Khaleda's adviser Mofazzal Karim said, "Members of front organisations may support political parties but they should not have direct involvement with party activities." He implied the uselessness of the foreign chapters of political parties as they "do nothing but greet party chiefs when they go abroad".
Supporting the ban on war criminals' taking part in elections, Mofazzal said convicted war criminals should be barred from taking part in elections and getting involved in politics.
Speaking on political parties' registration, the BNP leader said it is not possible for the BNP to change the party constitution within a short span of time since they need to hold the party council and talk to the grassroots level leaders.
Mofazzal criticised the government for making a number of decisions without consultation with the political parties and called upon the government to hold talks with the parties immediately.
"Until and unless party Chairperson Khaleda Zia is released and her son Tarique Rahman is sent abroad for treatment, the BNP will not get involved in the electoral process," he said.
Former AL lawmaker Promod Mangkin said, "Banning student politics by issuing an order will arouse controversy."
He urged the government to keep a provision in the RPO for the representation of indigenous people in parliament.
Fema President Firoz M Hasan said if the political parties get registered with the Election Commission, positive changes would gradually come in the country's politics.

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