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Sep 15, 2009

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes, including street agitations, in a couple of weeks to force the government to withdraw all charges against Sheikh Hasina and lift the state of emergency.

The party will also speak out against holding upazila elections ahead of the general elections at its meetings with the Election Commission (EC) on September 4 and 9, party leaders said.

The programmes came up for discussion at the AL’s Central Working Committee meeting at its Dhanmondi office yesterday. The meeting, presided over by acting AL President Zillur Rahman, was adjourned till 11:00am today.

Sources said today’s meeting will review the latest political development and its fallout, not least the possible release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.

Acting AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters that the government should free all people arrested in the anti-corruption drive before releasing Tarique, who he said ran a parallel government during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government and became the “world champion in corruption”.

On Tarique’s bail in all the cases against him, Zillur Rahman said people would put him on trial.

He said the BNP was directly collaborating with the caretaker government.

“We’ll have to take a tough stance as without showing force the government seems reluctant to pay heed to our demands,” Organising Secretary Abdul Mannan told the meeting.

Party leaders said they will oppose some provisions of the Representation of the People’s Order (RPO), 2008 on political party registration at their meetings with the EC.

They said they will ask the commission not to ban front organisations and foreign chapters of political parties as well as not to include “no-vote” option on ballot papers.

The party will not get registered with the EC if the conditions are not addressed, they said.

AL leader Col (retd) Faruk Khan told The Daily Star that they would first try to reach a consensus with the government and the EC through discussions.

“If they do not meet our demands, then we shall have no alternative but to go for movements,” he said.

The AL may warn the government that it would stay away from any polls to ensure that the government withdraws all charges against Hasina.

Referring to “conspiracies” to foil timely general elections, Syed Ashraful Islam said if the parliamentary polls are not held in December, it might not be held even in the next five years.

“A man’s death in a gas-cylinder explosion of a mini van, after Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists set fire to it, and unrest in the garment sector are nothing but indications of a bid to foil the national elections.”

Terming the two incidents staged plays, Ashraful said the vested quarters who do not want democracy in the country are doing this.

He criticised the government for allowing BNP-Jamaat alliance leaders to hold a political meeting with Khaleda Zia inside the special jail and said it was part of a conspiracy to foil the general elections.