Dhaka, Nov 14 (UNB) – BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Wednesday told a court that a level-playing field cannot be ensured for all political parties in the upcoming general election keeping her and her party leaders in jail.
“While everyone is busy with the election, we’ve been confined to the court. We’re made to conduct our election activities amid numerous obstacles,” she said during the charge-framing hearing against her in the Niko graft case in the Dhaka Special Judge Court-9.
“This can’t happen that one party will participate in the election keeping me in jail and my party leaders and activists in court,” the BNP chief said, demanding that all parties are given equal facilities for conducting electioneering.
She also urged the court to stay the trial proceedings of the case until the election ends.
Khaleda said the trial in the case should not continue inside the Old Central Jail as it lacks adequate air and light. “The Constitution safeguards people’s basic rights but the court has no atmosphere for holding a public trial. How the justice will be established?”
Meanwhile, the court fixed January 3 for hearing the charge-framing against the BNP chairperson and others in the Niko graft case.
Dhaka Special Judge Court- 9 Judge Mahmudul Hasan fixed the date after Khaleda's lawyers filed a petition seeking adjournment of the hearing.
Khaleda Zia was brought to the court in a wheelchair during the hearing.
On November 7, the Law Ministry issued a gazette notification saying that the trial of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and other accused in the Niko corruption case will be held at the makeshift court in Old Dhaka Central Jail.
Khaleda Zia has been in jail at Nazimuddin Road since she was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8 last.
The ACC on December 9, 2007 filed the Niko graft case against Khaleda and four others in connection with a Tk 137.77 loss to the national exchequer caused by the signing of an oil-gas exploration agreement with Canadian company Niko during the BNP tenure.
Colombo, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) — Sri Lanka's Parliament passed a no-confidence vote against the government headed by the hastily sworn-in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as lawmakers convened Wednesday for the first time since the president dismissed his Cabinet and suspended the legislature last month.
The motion brought by the leader of an opposition party could mean that Rajapaksa will have to resign his post but does not necessarily mean the leader whose ousting set off the crisis will be reinstated.
Lawmakers supporting Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom President Maithripala Sirisena replaced with Rajapaksa on Oct. 26, had a visible majority in the chamber. Many wore shawls with the words "For democracy."
As Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya prepared to let the no-confidence motion be debated, the chamber descended into chaos, with lawmakers supporting Rajapaksa filing into the center of the room shouting political slogans and accusing Jayasuriya of betraying the people's mandate.
Jayasuriya then said he had no choice but to bypass the debate and take an oral vote, with those in favor clearly voicing more support for the motion than those against it.
Before the results were announced, Rajapaksa walked out of the chamber.
After it became clear last week that Rajapaksa would not survive a no-confidence motion, Sirisena dissolved Parliament, but the Supreme Court on Tuesday had ordered the legislature to keep working until next month.
Namal Rajapaksa, a lawmaker in his father's United People Freedom Alliance party, told The Associated Press that they "don't accept this verdict" and will continue as the government.
Lawmaker Ajith Perera, a Wickremesinghe supporter, said the results of the vote meant Wickremesinghe and his government would be reinstated.
It's unclear if that would be the case.
Parliament adjourned after the vote and is to reconvene Thursday morning.
Dhaka, Nov 13 (UNB) – Amid huge enthusiasm like the previous day, BNP sold 1,896nomination papers on the second day on Tuesday among those old guards and new faces want to contest the 11th parliamentary elections with its tickets.
The areas around the BNP’s Nayapaltan central office remained overcrowded since morning as the nomination seekers together with their local supporters gathered there on the second consecutive day to collect their party’s nomination forms.
Carrying posters, banners, festoons, placards and portraits of party chairperson Khaleda Zia, acting chairman Tarique Rahman and nomination aspirants, the party activists celebrated the nomination sale and also demonstrated their election mood as the party is going to join the polls after nearly a decade.
Even, some aspirants and their supporters marched towards their party office with drums musical instruments, elephants and horses and staged a huge showdown to woo the party high-ups to nominate them.
But, the commuters and pedestrians went through immense sufferings as huge tailbacks created on the adjacent roads due to the massive gathering of BNP leaders and activists from Fakirapool to Kakrail areas all day long.
On Monday morning, the parry formally started the sale of nomination with the purchase of three nomination papers for its jailed chairperson Khaleda Zia. The party sold 1,326 nomination papers on the first day.
Talking to UNB, BNP assistant office secretary Taipul Islam Tipu said 1,896forms were sold as of 9pm on the second day while a total of 3,222 in the two days.
Tipu said the aspirants can collect the nomination forms until November 16.
BNP standing committee member Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain bought nomination forms for two seats in Cumilla.
On behalf of Mosharraf, his son Khandaker Mrauf Hossain collected the two forms.
BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy collected a form to contest the election from Keraniganj.
Among others, Abdul Awal Mintoo bought forms for Feni-3, Joynal Abedin for Feni-2, AZM Zahid for Mmensignh-4, Shamsuzzaman Dudu for Chuadanga-1, Selima Rahman for Barishal-3, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury for Patuakhali-1, Shahjahan Omar for Jhalakati-1, Ahmed Azam Khan for Tangail’s Ghatail, Hanna Shah’s son Reazul Hannan for Gazipur-4, ex-Gazipur mayor Abdul Manna for Gazipur-2, Fazlul Haque Milon for Gazipur-3, JCD general secretary Akramul Hasan for Narshindi-3, Helin Jerin Khan for Madaripur-1, Barrister Kaiser Kamal for Netrakona-4 and Journalist Kader Goni Chowdhury for Chottagram-2 seats.
A good number of fresh faces, the current and former leaders of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dla, Jubo Dal and Swechchhasebak Dal, collected forms on the second day, and they believe the party high-ups will give many fresh candidates nominations this time considering the overall political situation.
Convicted BNP leader Abdus Salam Pintu’s younger brother Shasmsul Alam Tofa collected three forms-- two for Pintu and his younger brother and Jubo Dal general secretary Sultan Saluddin Tuku for Tangail-2 and one for himself for Tangail-5 seats.
Ex-national football team captain Aminul Islam bought two nomination forms for Dhaka-14 and Dhaka-16 sets.
Missing BNP leader Ilias Ali’s wife Tahsina Rushdir Luna also bought a nomination paper for Sylhet-2 constituency.
Huge supporters of BNP leaders Shafiqul Islam Milton staged a big showdown with two elephants and two horses in front of the party office.
Dhaka, Nov 13 (UNB) – Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) on Tuesday announced to take part in the 11th parliamentary elections as part of its movement for ensuring a fair and neutral election.
On behalf of LDA, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) general secretary Shah Alam came up with the announcement at a press conference at Mukti Bhababan in the capital’s Paltan area.
“A public perception is there that the government has set a trap to hold a lopsided election as its schedule was announced without meeting the demands of political parties,” he said.
In a written speech, the CPB leader also said, “We’ve continued our street movement to ensure responsible attitude of the Election Commission and the government, and remove anxiety over the election. At the same time, we’ve decided to join the polls as part of our movement without falling into the trap of unilateral election.”
CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim said joining election does not mean their alliance has agreed that the polls will be held in a fair and credible manner as they have taken the decision as part of their struggle.
Selim said both the Awami League and BNP become desperate for a fair election when they remain as opposition, but they are out to hold a farcical election after going to power. “That’s why we think a credible election is not possible under a partisan government.”
He said they also think the 11th parliamentary elections will be flawed ones, not free and fair.
The CPB president also said they may boycott the election if the situation demands.
LDA coordinator Saiful Huq said people do not believe that the election will be fair, while the government did not take any step to restore people’s confidence.
Dhaka, Nov 13 (UNB) - Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said BNP’s demand for deferring the general election to facilitate the foreign observers to monitor the polls is funny, irrelevant, baseless and illogical.
“A state can’t defer its election if foreign observers fail to monitor it for their personal reasons,” he said while talking to reporters at the Awami League president’s political office at Dhanmondi.
Quader, also Road Transport and Bridges Minister, came up with the remarks against the backdrop of BNP’s allegation that the general election date was fixed on December 30 at the behest of the government to rig vote amid the absence of foreign election observers and diplomats due to Christmas and New Year.
He said there are many countries which are friends of Bangladesh. “And our country is not inferior to anyone in respect to dignity,” he said.
Replying to a query, the ruling party leader said if BNP tries to wage any movement demanding deferment of the election, the country’s people will resist them.
He, however, said the Election Commission (EC) will decide everything about the polls.
Earlier in the day, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, “The election date has been set on December 30 so that foreign observers can’t stay here and monitor the polls. The foreign observers, ambassadors, high commissioners and officials of different countries will be on leave on the occasion of Christmas, 31st and New Year.”
Speaking at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he renewed their demand for deferring the election schedule by a month. “A fresh schedule must be announced further and a level-playing field will have to be created for all the political parties.”