Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Time not ripe for lifting emergency in Bangladesh

Time not ripe for lifting emergency: CA
Source: The Bangladesh Today
July 21, 2008

Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed on Monday said the time is not yet ripe for fully lifting the state of emergency, as some reasons still stand that "justify its enforcement".(The Bangladesh Today)

"We want to proceed towards complete withdrawal of the state of emergency by relaxing it in phases. Our experience will tell what needs to be done," he told reporters at the circuit house in response to queries about outcome of the national dialogue and current political issues.

His latest statement apparently rules out demands from political parties for immediate lifting of the emergency so they could politically prepare for the coming elections. The head of the caretaker government made it clear that the state of emergency was declared for special reasons-and some of the reasons still exist.

However, he said the emergency has been eased on the eve of the city corporation and municipality elections to allow electioneering. In this context, he said, "We will evaluate the experience of the people and the candidates about the local elections in this situation."

Asked about detained ex-PM and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia's release, the Chief Adviser cited a government notification that expressed government's intention about her release for treatment at home and abroad.

"That process is still on. Everything is on track-release is possible. Release can take place by combining the legal and humanitarian aspects," he noted.

Asked about BNP participation in the political dialogue, which is all but complete, Dr Fakhruddin said, "We want participation of all parties in the dialogue and we want to go to elections along with all."

Asked if the caretaker government wants to neutralize political party activities by keeping the emergency in force, the Chief Adviser denied, saying: "We do not want to neutralize political activities and we don't have such intention as the caretaker government is not rival to any party."

He said political parties are necessary for flourishing democracy, but political parties should act taking into consideration people's aspirations.

Asked about the local polls contested by old faces with allegations of serious offenses, he said law is the yardstick to determine who is eligible or ineligible for election. He hoped political parties would field honest and competent candidates in the elections.

He observed that voters' duty is to cast their votes while duties of the caretaker government and the election commission are to ensure an atmosphere where voters can vote without any fear. "The government is determined to do its duty."

To another question, the Chief Adviser said the Election Commission has already planned to hold election to Upazila Parishads in phases before and after the general election.

About the mode of future government, balance of power and amendment to the Constitution, Dr Fakhruddin said a Constitution Commission could be formed so it can make recommendations on these subjects and keep those for the future elected government and parliament for consideration.

About national charter he had indicated in his address to the nation, the Chief Adviser said the government and political parties reached some consensus on some issues through the staggered political dialogue. He hoped a framework could be presented before the nation at the conclusion of the dialogue.

Asked if the anti-graft drive slows down in the wake of release of some top politicians facing corruption cases, the Chief Adviser said the government has not drifted away from its mission. Those who are accused were brought under the legal process, some trials were completed, some under trial and some investigations were at final stages.

"In some cases, decisions were taken considering humanitarian grounds as well as overall aspect. But we won't admit that we've been detracted from curbing corruption."

About the Truth Commission, he said the formation of the Commission is at the final stage and it would start functioning within weeks.

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