The Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, a loose political group, has given the ruling Awami League until Sep 30 to open talks with all political parties to form a non-partisan polls-time administration to hold the general elections in a free and fair manner. The ultimatum was issued from a rally organised by the new outfit in Dhaka on Saturday ahead of the eleventh parliamentary election expected in December.
The leaders of the group led by Gono Forum chief Kamal Hossain and Jukto Front Chairman and Bikalpadhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, have threatened to launch a tough movement to press home their five-point demands from Oct 1.
Several prominent leaders of different political parties, including the BNP, unequivocally extended their support to the ultimatum and called for a united movement to force the ruling party to implement their demands.
The four other demands are:
>> Reforms to the EC with the appointment of people acceptable to all parties through discussions and handover of the control of the law enforcers to the EC before the polls.
>> Deployment of the army with magistracy powers for 40 days from a month before the voting day.
>> Withdrawal of cases against politicians and students who took part in protests for reforms to the quota system in government jobs and road safety measures; a halt to the arrests of politicians before the end of the next election.
>> No use of electronic voting machines or EVMs in the election.
Speaking at the rally, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir cited an instruction from the jailed party chief, Khaleda Zia, to launch a movement to oust the Awami League from power at any cost by forming a national unity.
Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna extended full support to the demands.
Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convener of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, announced the demands on behalf of the Jatiya Oikya Prokriya.
Junaid Saki, the leader of the Ganasonghati Movement, an ally of the Left Democratic Alliance, former adviser to the army-backed caretaker government Mainul Hosein, and former Awami League MP Sultan Md Mansur Ahmed attended the rally.
The rally came after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina refused to form a non-partisan government.
In the declaration, Shahidullah said: “We urge the government to form a polls-time neutral government by negotiating with the political parties by Sep 30 and reconstituting the Election Commission to hold a free, fair and neutral election. At the same time, before announcing the election schedule, the current parliament must be dissolved.”
He called for the continuation of a peaceful programme in all districts, upazilas, unions and wards by forming national unity until the demand was met.
In response to the rally, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said that national unity cannot be forged without the Awami League, the countrys largest party.
Speaking at the rally, Badruddoza Chowdhury said, "We want free democracy. We want this government to go. I want to see the political prisoners released.”
Kamal Hossain urged all to forge greater unity for holding the election under the non-partisan government. “It is time to unite. I believe our efforts will be successful.”