The Jukto Front alliance and the Gono Forum have urged people to unite for a five-point charter of demands, including non-partisan election-time government, reforms to the Election Commission and deployment of army during polls. Gono Forum President Kamal Hossain, flanked by Jukto Front leaders, came up with the demands at a news conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday after the new alliance announced an effort to establish a ‘national unity’. Jukto Front Chairman and Bikpalpadhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury could not attend the press conference due to his illness, said Nagorik Oikya Convenor Mahmudur Rahman Manna, who is also the member secretary of the alliance.
ASM Abdur Rabs Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD is the other component of the Jukto Front, which is trying to get the Gono Forum and Abdul Kader Siddiques Krishak Sramik Janata League on board.
After discussions, the alliance and Hossain recently announced a plan to work together to forge the national unity in order to create a third force beyond the political arc dominated by the ruling Awami League-led coalition and its rival BNP-led alliance.
“We are making this joint announcement to forge a national unity. We want to establish this unity together. Build unity in every village, neighbourhood and house so that the people can get back their rights,” Hossain said.
He hoped they would succeed in turning Bangladesh into an effective democracy.
Abdur Rab urged all but the anti-liberation forces to unite for their demands.
Their five demands are:
>> Dissolution of parliament before the schedule for the next election, and formation of an election-time government after discussions with all parties. The leaders of this government cannot contest the election.
>> Reforming the EC with people acceptable to all through discussions and handing the control of the law enforcers over to the EC before the polls.
>> Deployment of 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 on arresting politicians before the end of the next election.
>> Scrapping the use of electronic voting machines or EVMs in polls.
Manna read out the demands and a nine-point declaration signed by Chowdhury and Hossain.
“The peoples rights have been snatched away through authoritarian control of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. There is no alternative to a larger unity for ensuring effective democracy, rule of law, and neutral implementation of law at every level of society by freeing the country, nation and the people from this situation,” they said in the declaration.
The nine targets mentioned in the declaration include striking a balance between the powers of the president and the prime minister, decentralisation of the administration, appointment of ombudsman, freeing the judiciary, and reforming the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The leaders of the alliance brought out a procession towards the Central Shaheed Minar before the conference call, but returned to the Press Club after police stopped them.
Abdur Rab alleged they were also barred from organising a rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan and demonstration in Mymensingh.
Pro-BNP professionals leader Zafrullah Chowdhury, among others, was also present.