Fresh election only solution

Khaleda on current political standoff; says she is aware of public sufferings but anti-govt movement to continue

Appearing before the media for the first time since January 19, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday said the ongoing anti-government movement will continue until it reaches a “logical conclusion”.

Saying that she is aware of people's sufferings due to blockade and hartal, Khaleda urged the countrymen to put up with this for the time being in the interest of the nation.

Reading out a statement to journalists at her Gulshan office, where she has been staying since January 3, the BNP chief reiterated that the present political crisis can be overcome only through an election under a non-party caretaker administration. She expressed the view also in her January 19 press conference.

As the BNP-led 20-party alliance's blockade entered its 67th day yesterday, she demanded talks for holding an inclusive election. “If the ruling party does not engage in talks, the onus is on it for solving the crisis.”

Observing that the current political deadlock has its roots in the 15th amendment that scrapped the provision for caretaker administration, Khaleda said the ruling party can bring back the system paving the way for an election under a non-party government.

In her 40-minute speech from 4:45pm, the former prime minister claimed the BNP and allies had to enforce hartal and blockade; they were left with no other option after the government rejected her seven-point proposal placed in late December.

She went on: “We are aware of the sufferings of people and our leaders and activists. But the ruling party leaders never care about this. Clinging to power is more important to them than mitigating people's sufferings.”

Accusing the government of using law enforcement agencies, including the Rab and BGB, as weapons to crush the opposition, she called upon the law enforcers to discharge their duties lawfully.

Also chief of the 20-party combine, Khaleda called upon people to unite against the Awami League government. “Forge a national unity through the movement.”

She demanded release of the opposition leaders and activists arrested across the country, an end to “enforced disappearances, killings and harassment by police and joint forces”, withdrawal of all “false cases” against the 20-party men and punishment to those responsible for extra-judicial killings following a fair investigation.

She also demanded withdrawal of “bans on political activities including rallies and processions”.

If these demands are met, Khaleda said, “I believe we will be able to go forward towards resolving the crisis.”

Holding the ruling party men responsible for subversive activities, including petrol bomb attacks on public vehicles, Khaleda demanded an international and credible investigation and punishment to the “real culprits”.

“We are in a movement to restore people's democratic rights, including their right to vote. So people are with us and we can't attack them. There is no question of our involvement in such misdeeds that will ultimately benefit the government.”

Having failed to suppress the opposition's movement, the ruling party has chosen the path of subversive activities including petrol bomb attacks on public transport, she alleged.

“We have long been demanding the government identify and punish those involved in such heinous terrorist activities, but it did not pay heed to our calls,” she said, adding that the AL is using the tragic deaths of innocent people to gain political mileage.

Khaleda alleged that the government is carrying out a false propaganda to brand people's democratic movement as militant activities only to ignore the "justified demands". It will do no good but benefit the “real militants”.

“I once again want to say unequivocally that the BNP and 20-party alliance do not believe in the politics of killing.”  

At the beginning of the press conference, her press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan told reporters that the BNP chief will not entertain any queries, as she wants to focus on her written statement.



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