President Abdul Hamid has urged the BNP-led alliance to help reach a consensus by shunning the path of confrontation and anarchy.
“Please extend cooperation in enhancing the image of Bangladesh, by leaving the company of communal and terrorist organisations. Please help democracy flourish through dialogue with the government,” Hamid said in his address at the inaugural sitting of the 10th parliament yesterday.
He also urged the BNP-led alliance to contribute to the establishment of a tolerant democratic system through removing hatred, violence and confrontation from politics.
The president, however, did not name the BNP-led alliance in his speech. He instead referred to it by terming it as the election-boycotting party.
The BNP-led 18 party alliance boycotted the January 5 polls and waged a violent protest to press home its demand for a nonparty election-time government and resist the polls. The Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of the alliance, is largely blamed for resorting to deadly violence in many parts of the country.
In line with the Sheikh Hasina-led government's stance on holding talks with the BNP, Hamid hinted that forging a consensus would depend on the BNP.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her colleagues in the cabinet and the ruling AL-led alliance have been urging the BNP to sever ties with to Jamaat as a pre-condition to a dialogue.
“The politics of terrorism and hatred carried out in the name of movement for changing the election procedure cannot bring about welfare in the country, society and economy. Rather, it plunges the political environment into darkness,” Hamid said in his written address approved by the cabinet.
He also said everybody sought a secure, happy, beautiful and prosperous Bangladesh. Alongside the government, the opposition has an important role to play in building the country.
“It is saddening to note that the desired cooperation was not extended by all parties in this endeavour. The irresponsible conduct of some opposition political parties has repeatedly obstructed the development march of the nation,” the president said, in an oblique reference to the BNP-led opposition's role in the past five years.
He noted that peace and prosperity could not be sustained without national consensus.
“I would like to make a fervent appeal for a collective initiative towards forging a consensus irrespective of political parties, classes and professions on fundamental issues such as the continuation of democracy, rule of law and sustained socio-economic growth,” reads the English version of his address.
He urged the nation to remain vigilant so that the progress of democracy attained at the cost of so many sacrifices was not thwarted.
“Artificial divisions and apprehensions may be generated from conspiracies to sabotage democracy as well as ill efforts to hinder the trial of war criminals,” the president told parliament.
The new parliament was constituted through the January 5 controversial election, in which 153 MPs -- in more than half of the total JS seats -- were elected unopposed without a single vote being cast.
In the remaining seats, voter turnout was low. The Election Commission put the turnout at 40 percent.
But Hamid said the new House was formed through a free and impartial election and that it shall be an ever vigilant sentinel of democracy, development and rule of law.
The president congratulated the voters, especially women and new voters, for casting their ballots spontaneously despite threats and intimidation.
“A fresh spirit has been infused into various spheres of national life after the assumption of office by the newly formed government,” he said. "We shall have to advance Bangladesh further on the path of peace, democracy, development and prosperity that we have traversed over the past five years.”
He also dwelt at length on the AL-led government's various successes over the past five years.