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Fresh polls with participation of all parties a must

Speakers at Dhaka Forum roundtable call for ensuring people's right to vote

By Special Correspondent
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Speakers at a roundtable on Saturday stressed the need for a fresh impartial free and fair election  with participation   of all parties to ensure  the people's right to vote.
They made the demand at a function  on  " Bangladesh at a crossroad", organised   by The Dhaka Forum  at The Daily Star Conference room in the city.
Moderated by chairman of the Forum, former governor of Bangladesh Bank  Dr. Saleh Uddin Ahmed, it was participated  by cross section of people.  
Ambassador Sirajul Islam, a member of the Forum  presenting the key notepaper said the only  possible way to overcome the prevailing crisis in the country is possible through holding of a fresh election with participation of all. " If  the prevailing political problem is not resolved immediately, he said, our country might reach the level of countries like Afghanistan , Iraq  or Pakistan."
The Election Commission instead of holding an uncontested farcical election to demonstrate compliance with legal compulsion should have postponed the elections respecting people's   
right to voting parliament members through direct elections stipulated in the Constitution, he said.
BNP seems amenable to a political dialogue but it is binding upon the government to help it and resolve the legitimacy question, he said.   
This parliament comprising of 153 uncontested members seriously lacks legitimacy, as it does not reflect the will of the people, democracy and country's constitution, he said. Such an election is also a deviation of the spirit of country's liberation war, he said.    Former adviser to caretaker  government Barrister Mainul Hosein said  in the name of upholding Constitution a voter less election was held on January 5 . The 15th amendment to the constitution, he said, was made   to hold such a farcical  election.  He also described the election time all party government as ridiculous. Politics in this country, he said, is a way to make illegal money.
Mahbub Jamil, another former adviser to caretaker government said, "   It is yet to be determined  whether  people are for the constitution or constitution is for the people. Had it been determined  election without people's participation could not have been held on excuse of constitution."
Another former adviser to caretaker government Dr. Hossain Zillur  Rahman  said  the country has beeen passing through  a crisis as the election was not held properly. The rule of law is on fast decline, he said adding the country is also facing  problems of moral degradation.  Corruption, he said,  has become order of the day.  The image of the country, he said, has been tarnished as today Bangladesh is seen as " politically suspected" by the outside world.   The message that the present government is giving to the people is that it could continue unless and until it is pulled down. It was said prior to election that dialogue would be held after the election but now it is being claimed that the government would continue for five years, he said.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said,  to overcome the prevailing crisis, there is the need for immediate election with participation of all parties.
Former secretary Sohel Chowdhury said there  is the need for an understanding under a package so that at the end of   every five year term the country does not face  violence over type of government to conduct elections.
Professor Dilara Chowdhury said  the government which  assumes power without people's vote, wants to remain in power with foreign support.  If such government remains in power for long, the country's sovereignty  is likely to be in danger, she observed.   Former Chief Information Commissioner M. Zamir said  the voters right to vote has not been curbed. He stressed the need for implementation of right to Information  law  to create awareness  among the people.
Ambassador Afsarul Kader said after every five year  the citizens get the chance to vote but this time they  were denied of such opportunity.  Election must be held afresh to enable people to choose their representatives as  to who will run the country for next five years.
The country is at a critical juncture with a government not accountable to the people putting the country at a political and economic crossroad, said Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank and currently president of The Dhaka Forum.

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