Election Manifesto: Oikyafront pledges truth commission

The Jatiya Oikyafront, if voted to power, will form an all-party truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and false cases of the last 10 years.

The commission will also include eminent academics, social workers and lawyers, and the politically motivated cases would be settled through individual pardons and compensations.

This comes in the 35-point pledge the Oikyafront made in its election manifesto seeking to establish peace and national unity, end the culture of vengeance and prevent recurrence of one-party rule.

The Oikyafront, an alliance of the BNP and some other parties, promises to bring sweeping reforms in governance if it comes to power through the December 30 parliamentary polls.

The reforms include introduction of a constitutional provision for an election-time government, upper chamber of parliament, complete separation of judiciary from the executive, an independent commission to appoint the Supreme Court judges, and appointment of the ombudsman and officials to other constitutional posts.

Addressing the programme to unveil the manifesto at a city hotel yesterday, top alliance leader Dr Kamal Hossain said they look to repair the state as the students demanded in the recent road safety movement.

“Students during their recent road safety movement demanded repair of the state. We also want to repair the state if we get elected.”

On the national polls, the eminent jurist warned that the situation may take a serious turn anytime if obstacles are created to a fair and credible election.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya and a leader of the alliance, read out the manifesto. He said their principles of running the government will be “consensus, inclusion of all and free from vengeance”.

BALANCE, DECENTRALISATION

The opposition alliance said it will take necessary measures to bring a balance between the powers of the president and the prime minister. No person will hold the post of prime minister for more than two consecutive terms.

For decentralisation of power, it pledged to strengthen the local government by increasing the budgetary allocation, introducing direct Zila parishad polls and a city government system led by mayors.

The Oikyafront said an all-party national commission will be formed to examine the pros and cons of provincial government system.

It will amend article 70 of the constitution that imposes stringent restrictions on lawmakers in taking stance against party policies. An MP will be free to vote against his own party in the House on any issues — except for finance bill and no-confidence motions.

The deputy speaker will be chosen from the opposition lawmakers and heads of the parliamentary standing committees will be from all parties.

The alliance said the number of reserved seats for women in parliament will be reduced from 15 percent to 10 percent. And all parties will have to nominate at least 20 percent women candidates for parliamentary polls.

There will be no reserved seats for women after two elections, but the number of women MPs to be elected through direct polls will be increased to 25 percent.

GRAFT, SCAMS

The Oikyafront promised stern actions against persons responsible for banking scams. Bangladesh Bank will enjoy “full autonomy” in running the banking sector with the dissolution of the finance division under the finance ministry.

“Corruption that took place during the current government’s tenure will be investigated and the persons found involved will be brought to justice by setting up special tribunals. The Anti-Corruption Commission will be made independent in real sense,” it said.

The provision of the Civil Service Act, which makes government permission mandatory before arresting civil servants, will be scrapped.

Effective measures will be taken to stop capital flight, and money already laundered will be brought back. Besides, actions will be taken against share market scamsters.

No ongoing projects will be cancelled but a committee will be formed to review those taken up hurriedly in the last two years.

Citing statistics of Washington-based organisation Global Financial Integrity, Nagorik Oikya chief Manna said around Tk 6 lakh 6 thousand and 868 crore has been laundered between 2005 and 2014.

In 2014 alone, Tk 72,873 crore has been laundered, he added.

Manna further said the Oikyafront will give priority to curbing corruption in various service sectors as well as mega projects.

POLICE, JUDICIARY

The Oikyafront says it will take measures to bring an end to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture in police remand.

“Incident of extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance will be investigated,” it said.

The practice of filing false cases by police will be stopped and nobody will be arrested without warrants. The Police Bureau of Investigation will enjoy full freedom.

The alliance promised to increase retirement age of the SC judges to 70 from 67 and set up permanent benches of the High Court at divisional headquarters.

“Wealth statements of judges and their close relatives will be made public every year.”

The alliance promised to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of press. For this, it will scrap the Digital Security Act and will impose no restriction on social media users. It will form an “independent” press council and encourage investigative journalism.

It promised to continue the war crimes trials and prepare a list of freedom fighters under the supervision of the army.

It will keep up the work of building professional and skilled armed forces keeping them above the political influence. The activities of DGFI will be limited to the defence affairs. A national security council will be formed under political leadership.

EMPLOYMENT, SERVICE

The Oikyafront seeks to introduce an unemployment allowance for those above the age of 30. A commission will be formed to examine the state’s ability to introduce such a system.

There would be no age limit for joining government services except for police and defence forces. And there would be no quota except that for the backward communities and physically challenged people. All vacant posts in government services will be filled in the next three years.

The alliance said a minimum allowance will be given to educated aged persons and they would be provided with part-time jobs.

UTILITY

Electricity price will not increase in the next five years for consumers using up to 100 units a month. Rural, small and cottage industries and all public and private hospitals will get electricity at concessionary household rates instead of commercial.

The alliance promised that the price of electricity and gas will not be hiked in the first year if it is voted to power.

EDUCATION

The Primary Education Completion Certificate exams for class-V students and Junior School certificate for class-VIII students will be cancelled. A single admission test will be introduced for admission to all public universities, promised the alliance.

Madrasa students will be given technical trainings and also foreign jobs. A commission will be formed for reform of madrasa education with focus on employment.

FOREIGN POLICY

The Oikyafront manifesto reads relationship with India will be strengthened further on the basis of equality.

“The water-sharing of Teesta and other common rivers and Rohingya issue will be resolved through bilateral discussions at the earliest,” it said, adding steps will be taken to strengthen Saarc and other regional groups.

Bangladesh will join the projects beneficial to it under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative by China.

Source: The Daily Star.

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