Opposition ultimatum as talk offer sidetracks

Mostafa Kamal MajumderThe Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have on the last two successive days invited each other to a political dialogue over the holding of the next elections, but they have not come even an inch closer to each other, and a resolution of the impasse looks as remote as before unless either of them make concessions.While Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out the Opposition demand for non-party caretaker government and expressed her readiness to have talks on an all-party interim government to oversee the general election; the Leader of the Opposition has set a 48-hour ultimatum for the government to accept the demand for restoring caretaker government and invited the PM to a tea for dialogue.
Thus minus the expression of readiness to have dialogue the leaders of the two major political parties the Bangladesh Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party have offered nothing to discuss to iron out their differences of opinion.
As reported, Sheikh Hasina said the BNP’s precondition of a non-party government for dialogue with the government was ‘unfortunate’. “How the election-time government will be run can be discussed during dialogue with the Opposition.”
Begum Khaleda Zia termed the Prime Minister’s dialogue offer as a drama and complained that the intention was to create division in the Opposition. She threatened sit-in demonstration in case her demand was not accepted.
The Prime Minister said, “If any understanding needs to be reached, even if an interim government needs to be formed with representatives from all parties, I said earlier we won’t have objection (to that). But I want the election be held in a democratic way.”
Khaleda Zia asked the government to first create ‘a congenial atmosphere’. “First restore the caretaker system, then we will consider sitting for dialogue,” she said. The former prime minister said the next parliamentary polls can only be held under the non-party neutral caretaker administration.
The pleasant expressions like readiness to have dialogue anywhere, anytime from the Prime Minister and the offer of tea from the leader of the Opposition thus sound like mere rhetotics. An opposition source said that the Prime Minister by terming their main demand caretaker government as a precondition, has torpedoed the proposed dialogue.
The Prime Minister rejected the demand for non-party caretaker government. “There will be no unconstitutional government. Everything will be among us. No more of this unelected government, the Prime Minister said referring to the two years of the last caretaker government, and reminded of the Opposition of sufferings during the period. A leading member of the BNP standing committee said yesterday the people knew who were behind the prolonged period of caretaker government and who benefitted from the same.
Begum Khaleda Zia complained of massive politicization of the civil administration and the police force by dismissing, retiring officers of their dislike or making them OSDs and weakening of the armed forces by dismissing or retiring patriotic officers. Without a non-partisan government holding of neutral elections would be impossible, she said.
The Prime Minister claimed that sole purpose of the Opposition’s movement was to disrupt the ongoing war crimes trials where several top Jamaat-e-Islami and two BNP leaders are in the dock with slew of charges of war crimes perpetrated during the nation’s Liberation War. “We’ll build the country in the spirit of the Liberation War. There is no place for Razakars (collaborators of then oppressing Pakistan army) here. No one will be able to protect them (the war criminals),” she said.
In reply the Leader of the Opposition said her party would hold trial not merely for crimes against humanity as the government’s revised stance states, because they had released war criminals in the past; but also for war crimes. Those to be tried would include members of the Awami League. We want the trial in a transparent way that is recognised internationally, she said.
(First published in The New Nation under headline ‘No end to impasse in sight despite ‘nice’ talk offers’on 05 May 2013)

Leave a Reply