Dhaka, Sept 7 (UNB) – BNP on Friday trashed the Prime Minister’s remark that Khaleda Zia’s trial is being held in an open court inside Old Dhaka Central Jail, claiming that her assertion is not correct.
“The Constitution says the trial must be held in public and in an open court. But they’re holding the trial in a small room (inside the jail) where there’s a sitting arrangement for only 10 lawyers. It’s not an open court,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Fakhrul came up with the comment while speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
While addressing a meeting of Awami League Central Working Committee on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Khaleda’s trial is being held in an open court where people have free access. “How could it be a camera trial when the door of the court remains open?” Hasina said.
She also said the makeshift court was set up in the central jail to try BNP chief Khaleda Zia as BNP leaders were talking about her security. “The trial of Colonel Taher was held in a court in jail during the Ziaur Rahman's regime.”
Refuting the Prime Minister’s comment, Fakhrul said Col Taher’s trial was held during martial law not under a civil administration. “So, it can’t be compared with that trial.”
About Sheikh Hasina’s comment that the constitution or the existing laws do not permit convicted Khaleda to take her domestic help Fatema with her in the jail, the BNP leader said she has been staying in jail with the court’s order. “We didn’t keep her in jail.”
He questioned as to why the government is keeping Khaleda in jail with various tricks even after she got bail from the apex court in the case she was convicted. “Why do you fear her? Free her from jail and hold a fair election. You don’t want to do it as you know people are not with you.”
Speaking at the press conference, party standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said jail is not an open place and people have no access to it. “The so-called court was set up inside the jail. How can it be an open court where people don’t have any access? The Prime Minister made such wrong remarks to confuse people.”
He said Col Taher’s trial was held when Justice Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem enforced martial law and the Constitution was kept suspended at that time.
“Taher’s trial was held during Ziaur Rahman for treason. But Khaleda Zia’s trial is being held now in a corruption case which is politically motivated one,” the BNP leader observed.
Mosharraf said the makeshift court was set up in the jail as part of the government’s plot to keep Khaleda Zia out of the next general election race.
New Delhi, Sep 6 (AP/UNB)— U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis were set to hold long-delayed talks Thursday with top Indian officials, looking to shore up the alliance with one of Washington's top regional allies.
The so-called "2+2" talks, scheduled to last just a few hours and focus on strategic and security issues, come amid a series of divisive issues, including Washington's demands that India stop buying Iranian oil and a Russian air-defense system. There are also news reports that President Donald Trump has privately mimicked the accent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But with trade and strategic ties growing quickly between the U.S. and India, both countries were keen to downplay potential diplomatic troubles.
"Freedom means that at times nations don't agree with each other," Mattis told reporters on his way to India, when asked about India's plans to buy a sophisticated Russian air-defense system. "That doesn't mean we can't be partners. That doesn't mean we don't respect the sovereignty of those nations."
The purchase of the S-400 ground-to-air missile system could trigger U.S. sanctions on India.
But C. Raja Mohan, one of India's top foreign policy analysts and the director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, noted that New Delhi-Washington ties have strengthened immensely over the past couple decades, and Trump has ramped up diplomatic pressure on India's main rivals, Pakistan and China, earning him plenty of goodwill.
He presumes both countries want a way to get past the question of the Russian missile system.
"India doesn't want to wreck the relationship for the S-400," he said. He also downplayed reports in the U.S. and Indian media that Trump has mimicked Modi's accent in meetings with his top officials.
Modi, he notes, is long past the days when, as the top official in the Indian state of Gujarat, he was denied a U.S. visa because of accusations he did not do enough to quell 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots.
"This government is pragmatic," Mohan said. Modi "has seen a lot worse than people mocking his accent."
The India-U.S. "2+2" talks, called that because they include the top diplomatic and defense officials of both countries, have been postponed twice, the last time when Pompeo was dispatched in July for talks in North Korea.
Pompeo met Wednesday in Islamabad with Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan. Khan said later he was optimistic he could reset the relationship with Washington after the U.S. cut aid payments over Islamabad's alleged failure to combat the country's militants.
Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) – Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad on Thursday said their party will fill candidates in all the 300 constituencies in the upcoming national election, aiming to return to power for ensuring good governance and restore peace in the country.
“The country is now not in a good shape due to bloodshed, killings and enforced disappearances. The country can’t be run this way. People have got fed up, and they want to live in peace,” he said.
Ershad, also a former military ruler, said, “We’re now there in the field to save people. We’ll ensure peace for people and free them from the current situation. It’s now proved that no one, except Jatiya Party, can ensure good governance in the country.”
He also said their party has already finalised the list of candidates for the 11th parliamentary polls. “We’ll contest the elections from 300 constituencies.”
The Jatiya Party chief came up with the remarks while carrying out electioneering at Korail Slum and Mohakhali kitchen market areas under Dhaka-17 constituency ahead of the next general election.
Ershad said the prices of all essentials, including rice, were within the buying capacity of people when he quit power. “But now those who’re euphoric after announcing the country middle-income one don’t know about the condition of rural people. All are busy trying to cling to power, and they’ve no time to look at people’s pains and sufferings.”
Narrating various development activities he carried in the constituency when he was its MP, the Jatiya Party chairman urged people to give him another chance by electing him in the next polls for working for their welfare.
“I’m still alive to work for people’s welfare. Vote for plough (Jatiya Party’s election symbol) we’ll ensure your security. No one will be able to carry out more development works than us,” he observed.
Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) – Claiming that its 1,500 leaders and activists were arrested and 80,000 unidentified people were made accused across the country in 12,000 cases over the last two weeks, BNP on Thursday said Bangladesh has now become a ‘repressive state’.
“Sheikh Hasina (PM) has turned Bangladesh into a repressive state. The state machinery is being illegally used to suppress people’s protest through brutal exercise of power,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he further said, “As per information we’ve received so far, our over 1,500 leaders and activists were arrested since pre-Eid time to till date across the country. Around 1200 cases were filed against 11,000 identified and 80,000 unidentified people over the same period.”
Besides, the BNP leader alleged, law enforcers have continued their raids on the houses of their party leaders and workers at different parts of the country, including Dhaka city, Pirojpur, Natore, Kushtia, Meherpur and Narsingdi.
Rizvi asked the reason behind the ‘wholesale’ arrest of their party men and filing a large number of cases against them since BNP still did not launch its movement. “The government did it as it always suffers from the fear of people.”
He warned that the government will not be able to hang onto power by using the law enforcers to suppress its opponents. “The government can’t realise that it’s going to sink in quicksand.”
Rizvi alleged that the government has established a ‘one-person’ rule in the country by destroying all the constitutional and democratic institutions.
He also said the government is not willing to hold a fair and credible national election to avoid its disgraceful defeat. “Sheikh Hasina has decided to eliminate opposition leaders and activists to hold another voter-less unilateral election.”
The BNP leader alleged that the government has kept their chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail ‘unlawfully in a false case out of its political vengeance’. “They’ve now shifted the court to jail to hold a camera trial of Khaleda Zia.”
Warning the government that people will not accept the trial of such a makeshift court in jail, he demanded Khaleda’s immediate release and her better treatment.
Washington, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — An incendiary tell-all book by a reporter who helped bring down President Richard Nixon set off a firestorm in the White House on Tuesday, with its descriptions of current and former aides calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" and a "liar," disparaging his judgment and claiming they plucked papers off his desk to prevent him from withdrawing from a pair of trade agreements.
The book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward is the latest to throw the Trump administration into damage-control mode with explosive anecdotes and concerns about the commander in chief. The Associated Press obtained a copy of "Fear: Trump in the White House" on Tuesday, a week before its official release.
Trump decried the quotes and stories in the book on Twitter as "frauds, a con on the public," adding that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly had denied uttering quoted criticisms of the president in the book.
And he denied accounts in the book that senior aides snatched sensitive documents off his desk to keep him from making impulsive decisions. He said in an interview with The Daily Caller, "There was nobody taking anything from me."
Later Tuesday, Trump was back on Twitter denying the book's claim that he had called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "mentally retarded" and "a dumb southerner."
Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff," adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing." Sessions has been a target of the president's wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
The publication of Woodward's book has been anticipated for weeks, and current and former White House officials estimate that nearly all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist. The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dismissed the book as "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad."
Woodward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The book quotes Kelly as having doubts about Trump's mental faculties, declaring during one meeting, "We're in Crazytown." It also says he called Trump an "idiot," an account Kelly denied Tuesday.
The book says Trump's former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, doubted the president's ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with Trump's campaign. Dowd, who stepped down in January, resigned after the mock interview, the book says.
"Don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit," Dowd is quoted telling the president.
Dowd, in a statement Tuesday, said "no so-called 'practice session' or 're-enactment'" took place and denied saying Trump was likely to end up in an orange jumpsuit.
Mattis is quoted explaining to Trump why the U.S. maintains troops on the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korea's missile activities. "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III," Mattis said, according to the book.
The book recounts that Mattis told "close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'"
Mattis said in a statement, "The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence."
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, said Mattis was never interviewed by Woodward.
"Mr. Woodward never discussed or verified the alleged quotes included in his book with Secretary Mattis" or anyone within the Defense Department, Manning said.
Woodward reported that after Syria's Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying: "Kill him! Let's go in." Mattis assured Trump he would get right on it but then told a senior aide they'd do nothing of the kind, Woodward wrote. National security advisers instead developed options for the airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley denied Tuesday that Trump had ever planned to assassinate Assad. She told reporters at U.N. headquarters that she had been privy to conversations about the Syrian chemical weapons attacks, "and I have not once ever heard the president talk about assassinating Assad."
She said people should take what is written in books about the president with "a grain of salt."
Woodward also claims that Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, boasted of removing papers from the president's desk to prevent Trump from signing them into law, including efforts to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and from a deal with South Korea.
Trump did not speak to Woodward until after the book's manuscript was completed. The Post released audio of Trump expressing surprise about the book in an August conversation with Woodward and dismay that he did not have an opportunity to contribute. Woodward tells Trump he had contacted multiple officials to attempt to interview Trump and was rebuffed.
"I never spoke to him," Trump told The Daily Caller. "Maybe I wasn't given messages that he called. I probably would have spoken to him if he'd called, if he'd gotten through."
The book follows the January release of author Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," which led to a rift between Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, who spoke with Wolff in terms that were highly critical of the president and his family. Wolff's book attracted attention with its vivid anecdotes but suffered from numerous factual inaccuracies.
Woodward's work also comes weeks after former White House aide and "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman published an expose on her time in the West Wing, including audio recordings of her firing by Kelly and a follow-up conversation with the president in which he claimed to have been unaware of Kelly's decision.
While White House aides have become increasingly numb to fresh scandals, the latest book still increased tensions in the West Wing, especially given the intimate details shared and the number of people Woodward appeared to have interviewed. Some White House officials expressed surprise at the number of erstwhile Trump loyalists willing to offer embarrassing stories of the president and his inner circle.
White House aides on Tuesday coordinated with other officials quoted in the book to dispute troublesome passages. But insiders speculated the fallout could be worse than that from "Fire and Fury," given Woodward's storied reputation.
Woodward's book was already ranked the top-selling book on Amazon on Tuesday.
Trump has been increasingly critical of anonymous sources used by reporters covering his administration. Woodward's account relies on deep background conversations with sources, meaning their identities are not disclosed.
Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer defended Woodward's methodology. "I've been on the receiving end of a Bob Woodward book," he tweeted Tuesday. "There were quotes in it I didn't like. But never once - never - did I think Woodward made it up."
He added: "Anonymous sources have looser lips and may take liberties. But Woodward always plays it straight. Someone told it to him."