Caretaker govt system can’t go on: Hasina

PRIME  Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said there is no option now to keep the provision of caretaker government system once that the Supreme Court declared it illegal.

“It is not my personal observation or thoughts. It’s the judgement of the highest court of the country, which we must comply with. I personally have nothing to do in this regard,” she said during a press conference convened at her official residence ‘Gono Bhaban’.

Those who believe in the rule of law must comply with the verdict of the apex court, she said.

Hasina, also Awami League president, touched upon current political situation, including the much-talked-about CG system, e-voting system, BNP’s demand of a midterm election, price hike of essentials, and her recent visit to Switzerland, Turkey and France.

“The next general elections will be held in accordance to practices of developed countries which are parliamentary democracies,” the PM said, adding that the Election Commission (EC) will hold the polls in a free, fair and independent manner.

The EC will be made independent and strengthened enough to hold the elections without any influence. Electronic voting system will be introduced so that no-one can rig the polls. “A free and fair election can only be held if there is an independent Election Commission in place.”

On BNP’s rejection of the idea of e-voting, she said: “Why is she (Khaleda Zia) opposing it if she believes in democracy?”

To strengthen the EC, appointments will be made in line with recommendations by all-party search committees, she said.

She assured on behalf of the AL that there will be no interference or influence by the ruling party in any elections.

On recent Supreme Court observation that the next two general elections might be held under the CG, the premier said it is merely an observation, nothing mandatory.  “We will have to follow the mandatory things.”

The main opposition party may place its opinions before the parliament, if they have any, she said, adding that it is the jurisdiction to consider their proposals.

Asked whether there is any possibility of political conflict in case the BNP boycotts the general elections, Hasina said: “There was political conflict during the caretaker government regimes. It was rather more vehement than the situation during a political government.”

“I would say there definitely would be conflict and chaos if a political party works only to follow its greed for power,” the PM said, suggesting that all parties should accept people’s verdict and honour their trust, which can ward off any kind of conflict.

Replying to a query whether the AL will take part in any parliamentary elections under the BNP government in the future, Hasina said, “Why not? The Election Commission will hold the polls, not BNP. If they (BNP) have any plot to manipulate the election, people will understand and act accordingly.”

Referring to the results of Chittagong City Corporation election and by-elections to Habiganj and Brahmanbaria, Sheikh Hasina claimed all the elections held during the AL government rules have been free, fair and credible.

“Awami League did not influence any of the elections. We have proved that free, fair and neutral elections are possible under a political government if it remains sincere and shows respect to democracy.”

Hasina said her government wants to follow the Westminster election system.

On BNP demand of midterm election, the AL chief asked her rival Khaleda Zia to explain the reason for the demand. “People of Bangladesh have given their mandate for us to govern the country for five years.”

Hasina continued: “Are you and your party ready for it? What is new that you have to offer? What are the guarantees that you will win?”

The PM invited the BNP lawmakers to resign first and then bring no-confidence motion in the parliament.

“If majority of the MPs resign, the parliament will be dissolved and only then the election could be held. If you win, you can form the government,” she said understandably addressing the BNP chairperson.

By demanding a midterm election, the opposition is pushing the country towards instability, she alleged, adding: “The opposition leader does not want the country to function properly.”

Hasina alleged that the opposition leader attempted to portray a negative image of the country to discourage foreign investment, which grew significantly in the last two years.

Talking on price hike of essentials, the PM said price hike and inflation is less than that of 2008. “People’s buying capacity has increased; salary and wages too.”

She said there is sufficient food stock now alongside the bumper production of Boro paddy.

Sheikh Hasina, at a meeting with the special committee on Monday, opposed the idea of maintaining the caretaker government system for two more general elections.

Earlier on May 10, the Appellate Division of Supreme Court in a verdict declared the caretaker government system unconstitutional and void.

The apex court, however, observed that the system may be practiced for holding two more parliamentary elections for the sake of “safety of the state and its people”.

Hasina on Monday said they should honour the verdict first, then the court’s observation.


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