The court will have the last say on whether BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will be able to contest in the next national election, say the chief election commissioner (CEC) and the Awami League general secretary.
Both KM Nurul Huda and Obaidul Quader’s remarks came on Monday, hours before the certified copy of the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case verdict was released in the afternoon.
Khaleda’s lawyers said they would try and file her bail plea and appeal to the High Court on Tuesday against the verdict that sent her to jail for five years.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, CEC Nurul Huda told reporters that the BNP chief would be able to participate in the 11th general polls if the court allowed her.
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File photo of CEC KM Nurul Huda | Focus Bangla
“Khaleda Zia will not be able to contest in the polls under present circumstances. But if she appeals and the court decides to allow her, then she will be able to participate,” Huda said.
He also said: “I do hope Khaleda Zia gets to contest in the next election.”
A special court on February 8 had sentenced Khaleda to five years imprisonment and five others to jail for 10 years in the graft case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2008. The five others were also fined Tk2.1 crore each.
Since then, the former prime minister has been kept in the old central jail at Nazimuddin Road of Old Dhaka.
Echoing the CEC’s take on her polls fate, senior Awami League leader Obaidul Quader on Monday also said: "...court will decide whether Khaleda could contest the parliamentary polls...this is not a matter of politics of the ruling party.”
Taking a dig at their arch-political rival, he said the removal of Section 7 from BNP’s constitution before the verdict was very 'mysterious,’ reports UNB.
“The nation is yet to have an answer why BNP has dropped Section 7 from its constitution,” Obaidul, also the road transport and bridges minister, told reporters at the Secretariat in Dhaka.
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File photo of Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader | Dhaka Tribune
Section 7 (e) of the BNP’s constitution disqualifies anyone who has been convicted as per 1972 presidential order, declared bankrupt, proved unbalanced, known as corrupt or notorious in society, from being member of the party’s National Council, the National Executive Committee, the Standing Committee or member of Executive Committee at any level. The person would also be disqualified from being nominated by the party to contest in the national election.
It is not possible to amend the party's constitution without holding any council. "But, BNP has brought amendment to give license to the convicted and corrupt leader,” said Obaidul.
"Dropping Section 7 will become a painful thorn for BNP. BNP itself is creating a crisis. They will fall into a trap,” he said.
Asked whether Awami League would participate in the polls if BNP does not, the minister said: “The election will be held as per the constitution and we will take part in it as usual. We will not stop any party from participating in the national election.”
Parts of this article were first published on banglatribune.com