The prime minister says she is not clear what it is exactly that Khaleda Zia has forgiven her for
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the possibility of any special initiative on her part to ensure BNP’s participation in the upcoming national election unlike the past, saying the 2018 polls would be held as parliamentary democracy is practised in other countries.
The prime minister said at a press conference yesterday that it was the duty of all political parties in a democratic system to participate in the elections.
“Do we have to send her presents?” she remarked, alluding to the BNP chairperson.
Hasina met the press to talk about her Cambodia visit that ended on Wednesday but also answered questions about the political scenario in Bangladesh.
“A party that does not believe in democracy, does not practise democracy, are they going to come to elections? It is their call. We have nothing to do here,” she said.
Before the 2014 elections, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called then opposition leader Khaleda Zia and invited her to Ganabhaban.
She reminded the press that she got no response at that time.
“Dialogue with who? What proposal? I made a proposal once and got such an earful!” she recalled.
“I do not think we need to give anymore proposals to her.”
She recalled the experience of visiting Khaleda Zia when Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko died.
“I went there to show my sympathy. But they would not let me in. I do not want to speak to people who do not know basic civility,” she said.
Asked about a recent comment by Khaleda at a court about her forgiving Hasina, the prime minister said that she was not sure what it was that she needed to be forgiven for.
“What is she forgiving me for? Because I survived the August 21 grenade attack? She is the one who should apologise to the nation and to me,” she said.
“Our government did not file any cases against Khaleda Zia. Rather her government had filed a dozen cases against me,” she said.
Rohingyas must return home
The prime minister said Rohingyas, the displaced Myanmar citizens who have taken refuge in Bangladesh, must return to their home country.
“The Rohingyas must go back to their country. The refugees will be returned through a joint committee. Because it is our neighbouring country, I want good relations to sustain,” she said.
“We are getting international support on the Rohingya issue. Everybody is sympathetic. Nobody appreciates this massive outpouring of refugees.”
Sheikh Hasina said the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had also lent his support on this issue.
Tarique must return
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government will continue to work to bring BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman back to the country to face justice.
“One day he will have to face justice,” she said.
“I hope you have not forgotten, Tarique Rahman is a convicted criminal. We are in discussion with the UK government to bring back this criminal. This process will continue,” she added.
Describing her official visit to Cambodia as very successful and fruitful, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said it would further deepen bilateral relations and cooperation.
Sheikh Hasina said Cambodian Premier Hun Sen extended his support to Bangladesh’s candidature to be a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN, while he assured of giving full support to Bangladesh’s joining the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation Forum.
The premier said during her visit Bangladesh and Cambodia signed 10 instruments – an agreement and nine memorandums of understanding (MoUs) – to boost trade and investment relations as well as enhance cooperation in various fields like tourism, agriculture, civil aviation, ICT and technical education.
The two countries inked the deal on cooperation between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce.