‘Stop repression to let BNP consider city polls’

Bangladesh Nationalist Party holds a discussion on the occasion of Independence Day at National Press Club in Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Top leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party demanded the government take measures to ensure a ‘level-playing field’ for the party to consider taking part in the civic polls in Dhaka and Chittagong.
The measures included reopening its central office, release of its ‘50,000 leaders and workers’ including party’s acting secretary general, returning of ‘disappeared’ joint secretary general Salah Uddin Ahmed and withdrawal of ‘false cases’ against its leaders and activists.
‘If the election commission can ensure a level playing field, only then we can think about joining the civic polls,’ BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman told newsmen on the sideline of a discussion meeting at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
He, however, said the final decision in this regard would be taken by BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The party organised the discussion meeting marking Independence and National Day with its vice chairman Shah Moazzem Hossain in the chair.
Addressing the discussion, Shah Moazzem said the party could join the polls only after the government ‘allows us to open our central office, allows our leader Khaleda Zia to move freely, releases our 50,000 leaders and workers across the country, including party’s acting secretary general and joint secretary  general, and return our disappeared joint secretary general.’
Speaking on the occasion, Ganashasthaya Kendra founder and trustee Zafrullah Chowdhury said the civic polls in Dhaka ‘could be an opportune moment to transform democratic practices, but for that the Election Commission will have to be strengthened.’
Syed Mohammad Ibrahim, chairman of the BNP-led alliance component Bangladesh Kalyan Party, also said the EC must ensure a level-playing field for free and fair civic polls.
Taking part in the discussion on the country’s Independence Day, BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman said a ‘sustained’ movement is going on in the country to restore democracy, which was one of main spirits of the liberation war, and asked all to join the movement.
Shah Moazzem alleged the country was now under control of a neighbouring country. ‘You all will have to take a vow to wage a strong movement to bring bank the country’s independence.’
Ibrahim said the only solution to the current political crisis is annulment of the 15th amendment and holding a free and fair general election.
Zafrullah said if a change is not made to the undemocratic character of the country, its future is ominous.
Later, singers of Jatiyatabadi Sangskritik Sangstha rendered songs in commemoration of the martyrs of the War of Independence, the ‘martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the ongoing democratic movement’ and of those who sustained injures in the movement.

Source: New Age

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