The caretaker government last night declared again that the ninth parliamentary election will be held on the original scheduled date of December 18, after its frantic two-day negotiations with BNP-led 4-party alliance on the question of poll deferment had failed.
After a series of meetings with the chief adviser in his office, Commerce Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman also announced that the upazila polls will also be held on the original scheduled date of December 28.
The military backed caretaker government’s rather hard line approach came after its failure to strike an all party consensus while it is also promise bound to the people to hold the long stalled parliamentary election by the year end.
Briefing reporters in the Chief Adviser’s Office around 8:00pm yesterday, Zillur said the government had taken various steps so the elections can be held with participation of all political parties, and had made that its top priority.
The adviser said the BNP-led alliance placed four demands on November 16 as preconditions for its participation in the polls.
“Although the demands were placed at the eleventh hour, the government in consultation with the Election Commission put forward a 4-point proposal to the two political alliances led by Awami League and BNP.”
The government proposals were: deferment of the parliamentary election by ten days to December 28, total lifting of the emergency at an appropriate time before the election taking into consideration the law and order situation, holding upazila elections on January 8, 2009, and implementing clause 91(e) of the amended Representation of the People Order (RPO) with utmost caution and accountability.
“Despite multifarious communications and maximum efforts, the Election Commission and the government could not broker a consensus between the two alliances. Therefore, the parliamentary and upazila elections will be held according to the original schedules,” Zillur told a jam-packed news briefing.
He said, “Under the circumstances, the government and the Election Commission earnestly hope that all political parties will participate in the elections according to the schedules, for the sake of greater national interest and sustainable democracy.”
Zillur said in order to hold the elections safely on time the government and the Election Commission (EC) will take all necessary security measures with utmost vigilance.
“The government hopes that all will play their roles in transition to democracy keeping in mind the national interest.” he said.
The government adviser, who has been working as the main negotiator and government spokesperson, however declined to take questions from the reporters.
The government negotiators Zillur, Law Adviser AF Hassan Ariff, LGRD Adviser Anwarul Iqbal, Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, and Communication Adviser Ghulam Quader held a series of meetings with Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and the chief election commissioner (CEC) yesterday to come to the latest decision.
Earlier in the day, after a meeting with the chief adviser, CEC ATM Shamsul Huda however said the EC was ready to reschedule the general election for December 28, if the government could get all parties on board.
In the evening just before Zillur’s news briefing, the CEC told reporters in the EC Secretariat that the commission still wanted to hold the election according to the original schedule, but for the sake of the participation of all parties they were ready to defer the parliamentary poll.
The government embarked on fresh parleys with political parties, especially with the BNP-led alliance, on Tuesday night following the alliance’s 48-hour ultimatum the night before for meeting its four demands, which are: total lifting of the state of emergency, suspension of some ‘objectionable’ clauses in the amended RPO including repeal of clause 91(e), deferment of the December 28 upazila elections till one month from the parliamentary poll, and rescheduling of the parliamentary poll ensuring that hajis will be able to cast their votes.
Instructed by the chief adviser the delegation of five advisers held talks with AL chief Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia but the bid for a consensus failed, prompting the government’s latest announcement.
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