Polls as scheduled, says Bangladesh government


Dhaka : Bangladesh’s caretaker government has said that nothing could disrupt the Dec 29 general election, but two-term prime minister Khaleda Zia is unimpressed and has alleged that “conspiracies” are underway to block the polls.

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Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, who performs prime ministerial functions in the military-backed government, told officials in the north-eastern city of Sylhet Monday: “Any kind of laxity or negligence in election activities and discharging responsibilities won’t be tolerated.”

Two of his advisers, Ghulam Qader and Hossain Zillur Rahman, have also said parliamentary elections would be held. “None can frustrate the schedule,” adviser Ghulam Qader was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper.

He was responding to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Zia telling an election rally in Jessore in western Bangladesh that “conspiracies” were on to frustrate the poll.

Zia also alleged a plot to manipulate the poll in favour of the “grand alliance” led by her political rival Sheikh Hasina, also former prime minister and chief of the Awami League.

The government and the Election Commission, she says, are “working overtime” to favour her rivals.

Zia has been a trenchant critic of the caretaker government, of which Hasina is broadly supportive, although both suffered imprisonment on graft charges.

During her whirlwind poll tour, Zia has been lambasting the “political vendetta” by the government that she says tried in vain to force her to leave the country to separate her from the people.

She has also been making sentimental mentions of her sons, politician Tarique Rahman and businessman Arafat Rahman Koko, now convalescing in hospitals abroad.

“Leaders of my party, my sons and I were detained to make the country weaker and dysfunctional,” she said.

“My sons were energetic and completely fit at the time of their arrest and they even got into the prison van on foot. But when they were released one was in a wheelchair while the other was in an ambulance with an oxygen mask.”

“What sort of justice is this? What was my fault?” she asked, alleging that her sons were tortured in jail because she refused to go abroad, The Daily Star newspaper said.