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AL leaders react guardedly over CEC remark on Zia

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FT ONLINE

The Awami League is cautious about its reaction to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda’s remark that BNP founder Lt General (retd) Ziaur Rahman reinstated multi-party democracy in Bangladesh, attempting to dodge debate.
Sources inside the party said the central leaders of the ruling party had decided not to make any comment that might make the CEC seem controversial.
Furthermore, several leaders said Huda’s remark was merely to appease the BNP and ensure the party’s participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda may have praised Ziaur Rahman to bring BNP on board for the next election. It could be a strategy move to ensure an all-participatory polls,” said Obaidul Qauder, general secretary of the Awami League and the Road Transport and Bridges minister, while speaking to reporters at a seminar on World Food Day on Monday at the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in Dhaka.
A senior leader of the party, requesting anonymity, said since BNP frequently criticised the Election Commission, this was the CEC’s way of appeasing the party.
“The Election Commission’s main goal is to conduct a free and fair election participated by all parties. It is their duty to bring the BNP in the next election,” the leader added.
Awami League Presidium member Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruq Khan said there was no need to take the CEC’s remark seriously.
“We all know that Zia did not reinstate the multi-party democracy; he established a multi-party military democracy. The CEC said what he said only to make BNP happy. He even praised Ershad a few days ago to confirm their [Jatiya Party’s] participation in the next election,” Faruq said.
He further said the CEC would praise the Awami League too when the party sat in dialogue with the Election Commission.
Awami League Presidium member Ramesh Chandra Sen echoed Faruk, saying: “This is the Election Commission’s attempt to ensure that all political parties take part in the next election.”
However, the party’s Presidium member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya declined to make a comment.
On Sunday, during the Election Commission’s dialogue with the BNP, CEC Nurul Huda lauded Ziaur Rahman for restoring multi-party democracy in the country.
He said in 1975, the government of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had introduced the one-party BAKSAL government through the 4th Amendment to the constitution.
After Zia got elected president in 1978, the second Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) was formed through the ballot with participation of all major parties in 1979, the CEC added.
Huda also praised BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for her leadership when she became the country’s first female prime minister in 1991 and also when she assumed office in 2001.

-NK

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