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Oikya Front deems dialogue futile

  • Published at 10:54 am November 8th, 2018
WEB_Jatiya Oikya Front press briefing_second dialogue with govt_07.11.2018.jpg
File photo: Gono Forum President and Jatiya Oikya Front leader Dr Kamal Hossain speaks at a press briefing at his Bailey Road residence in Dhaka following Oikya Front's second round of dialogue with the government on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 Arifur Rahman Rabbi/Dhaka Tribune

None of their proposals were accepted by the 14-Party Alliance during Wednesday’s dialogue

Three proposals made by the Dr Kamal-led Jatiya Oikya Front were rejected during a second round of talks with the 14-Party Alliance.

On Wednesday, Oikya Front advocated for the dissolution of parliament, the reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC), and Khaleda Zia’s release, but could not reach consensus with the 14-Party Alliance’s leaders, said JSD general secretary Abdul Malek Ratan, reports UNB.

Abdul furthered: “We are frustrated as we did not get any positive results,” regarding their three key demands—a neutral polls-time government and the dissolution of parliament, the reconstitution of the EC, and the creation of a level playing-field.  

Another Oikya Front leader, on condition of anonymity, said Dr Kamal Hossain urged the Prime Minister to continue meeting to resolve  disagreements and ensure a meaningful election. He said, “however, the Prime Minister did not respond to it; only hinted that informal discussions could be held.”

He said one of Oikya Front’s rejected proposals was that of a potential polls-time government comprising 10 advisers – and a chief adviser – to be constituted by the President after the dissolution of parliament.

The Oikya Front leader also said parliament can be dissolved as per the section 123 (3) (B) and the election could be held in the last week of February or in early March.

In response, the Prime Minister said it is  not possible to dissolve the parliament now and it is solely within the jurisdiction of the EC to move the election schedule.

Another Oikya Front leader said the Prime Minister urged them to participate in the polls and stated that the election will be free and fair. “Keep your trust in me as the election will be fair,” he quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

He said they also recommended reconstituting the EC.

The Oikya Front leader mentioned that they proposed  the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) resign as per section 118 (6) of the Constitution, and the President appoint a new CEC based on discussions with the political parties.

However, most of the 14-Party Alliance leaders opposed the proposal, claiming a fair election is possible with  the current CEC, he added.

The Oikya Front leader also elaborated on their proposal—to create a level-playing field during the election.

They demanded Khaleda Zia  be released from jail, on bail, and that the Attorney General and the state lawyers not oppose her bail petitions.

He said they also demanded the release of jailed political leaders—except those those imprisoned for murder and rape.

They also sought a guarantee to exercise their rights to hold rallies and political programs.

Additional demands included stopping telephoneconversations from being leaked and cancelling the decision to use electronic voting machines in the election.

In response to the proposal and demands regarding a level-playing field, the 14-Party Alliance leaders assured the Oikya Front leaders that a level-playing field will be created as MPs and ministers will have no authority over this during the polls.

They also said they will assist the EC in ensuring a level-playing field.

The Prime Minister continued that  steps would be taken to stop the arrest of Oikya Front leaders and withdraw false cases.

She, however, said the court will decide on Khaleda’s situatione, the Oikya Front leader added.

When the talks began, Dr Kamal Hossain told the Prime Minister that they came to hear from her about their seven-point demand, but the Prime Minister urged the Oikya Front leaders to speak first, according to the Oikya Front leader speaking on condition of anonymity.

During the meeting, Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed said Oikya Front’s formula for the polls-time government cannot be accepted as it will only create a constitutional crisis.

BNP leader Moudud Ahmed said their proposal could be accepted in line with the Constitution and it would not create a crisis.

At one stage, Moudud and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader argued about their local politics.

Moudud said he could not go to his village home due to police harassment, while Quader responded that he had faced the same problem during BNP’s rule.

The Prime Minister concluded the dialogue with a speech and warned that she will not allow anyone to foil the election.

After the talks, Awami League’s advisory council member Tofail Ahmed said that Oiky Front suggested unconstitutional proposals and made unacceptable statements.

He also said the dialogue has concluded but they will not object if the Oikyafront leaders want to meet with them after the election schedule is announced.

Oikya Front leader Mahmudur Rahman Manna said they discussed many things but did not come to a resolution.