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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

The Awami League leaders must opt for crisis or solution

By Sunita Paul

The lingering differences over the proposed political dialogue for reform of the electoral process and the caretaker system make average citizens to pose a crucial question as to whether the political leaders want the next elections to be held properly, or they want to engage in a movement centering on such controversies.

This question has become inescapable because while the countdown of the end of the tenure of the incumbent government has already begun, political leaders, especially those in the opposition, are showing a tendency to continue agitation under whatever pretext, instead of showing an urgency to resolve differences to go for the upcoming general elections.

Even the sincerity in respect of having a political dialogue on some proposed reforms is now doubted as precondition has been set for the same. The Awami League-led 14-party Alliance has said that it would not have dialogue with the alliance government if its delegation includes representatives of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, a major component of the BNP-led ruling alliance. People have given up hope of any such dialogue.

By pressing this demand the AL and its allies have unwittingly put themselves into a paradox. The opposition alliance is for such reform of the caretaker system that would enable all political leaders to choose the chief of caretaker government.

An interesting point in this regard is that possibly the leaders of the AL-led alliance themselves do not have a credible answer to the question as to how they can even dream of consensus while refusing to sit for dialogue with any member of Jamaat present. But Jamaat has a strong representation in Parliament. And today's opposition AL had come to power in 1996 by waging shoulder to shoulder with the Jamaat a movement for insertion of provisions of caretaker government in the Constitution.

The leaders of AL have given ultimatum for the Chief Election Commissioner to resign but there is no assurance they will participate in the forthcoming election. The other 13 parties of 14-party alliance are not electable on their own. Thus, these parties may not have much interest in election-based politics. That is the danger.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the political stand-off, some elements have engaged themselves in activities sabotaging the economy, especially the garment sector, its main artery, accounting for more than 75 per cent of export earnings. Huge public property has been damaged in the name of agitation to press the demands for regular supply of water and electricity.

Against this backdrop, would it be too harsh to ask the political leaders to clarify their positions in respect of the proposed reforms. What is their prime objective? Whether they want to press the demand for the said reforms to make the conduct of elections smooth, free and fair; or use the same as a pretext to remain involved in movements. AL leaders have to be sure whether they want to create problems and crises or they want solution for the forthcoming election to be free and fair.

- INS + Asian Tribune -

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