No talks to bring BNP in polls
12:00 AM, December 08, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:50 AM, December 08, 2017

No talks to bring BNP to polls

Says PM, rules out snap polls; rejects Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday ruled out the possibility of any special initiative on her part to ensure BNP's participation in the next general election.

"I'm not going to pour butter in an improper saucepan . . . the election will not wait for the absentees," she was quoted by BSS as telling a press conference at the Gono Bhaban.

The BNP will have to decide for itself if it would run in the election, she said. "But I don't think the BNP will repeat the mistake of 2014 [of boycotting the election].”

Hasina made the remarks responding to repeated questions by journalists on the issue, when she reminded everyone of the "utter misconduct and humiliation" she faced from BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia ahead of the 2014 elections as she tried to reach out to her, only to get a cold shoulder.

Talking about US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Hasina said the unilateral declaration will create anarchy around the world, reports UNB.

"There is a UN resolution on the issue. So steps should be taken as per the resolution. No one will accept such violation of the UN resolution ... this is my statement," she said.

East Jerusalem was supposed to be the capital of Palestine if the border drawn after the 1967 war is considered. There should be a status quo on that, she noted.

The press conference was held to brief the media about the outcome of her just-concluded Cambodia visit, but issues related to the election, Rohingya crisis, corruption charges against the BNP chief and her family dominated the event.

At the beginning, the PM read out a statement highlighting the achievements of her three-day visit and her government's plan to strengthen ties with Phnom Penh in different fields.

Later, replying to a question, she dismissed the possibility of an early election, saying "the country is not in any crisis for which it should go for snap polls".

On the Rohingya crisis, the PM said her government continued to receive enormous global support, and that during her Cambodia tour she requested Phnom Penh to pursue ASEAN leaders to support the Rohingya cause.

Asked to comment on a recent remark by Khaleda about granting pardon if the BNP returned to power, Hasina said she found the comment rather ambiguous.

"I'm not quite clear whether the BNP chairperson was showing mercy or if she was seeking it for her attempt to kill me by launching the 2004 grenade attack. 

"What offence have I committed that I need her pardon?" she said.

Rather the BNP chairperson should offer an apology for the killing of former finance minister Shah MS Kibria, Ahasanullah Master, the grenade attack of August 21, 2004, and the killings of several thousand Awami League leaders and workers after assuming office as PM in 2001, she added. 

Hasina also accused the BNP of all attempts on her life saying, "every incident took place following their instigations and threats".

About the corruption charges against Khaleda, she said her government did not file any case against the BNP chief, although the BNP government filed a dozen cases against her.

"All corruption charges against Khaleda Zia were brought by the past caretaker government, which was represented by the people, including the president, the chief of the caretaker government and the then army chief -- all favourable to Khaleda Zia," she said.

The PM also slammed Khaleda for “trying to evade justice,” saying the BNP chief applied for staying a graft case more than 150 times and filed 22 to 23 writ petitions to delay the proceedings.

Hasina also recalled the countrywide arson attacks “by BNP and Jamaat” in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and said Khaleda should offer an apology to the nation for those misdeeds.

About allegations that Khaleda laundered huge sums to Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said it was regrettable that the news was reported by the foreign press, not by the local media.

"It is very unfortunate that I have seen no interest on the part of the local media, except for two TV channels and two newspapers, to run the news," she said.

"I don't understand why the [local] media is so weak towards the patrons of assailants and anti-liberation forces," she said.

CAMBODIA VISIT

Elaborating on her Cambodia visit, the PM said the two sides discussed enhancing trade and investment, cooperation in agriculture, fisheries, civil aviation, ICT, labour and vocational training, aquaculture and tourism.

Both sides decided to hold the first foreign minister-level meeting on Joint Commission in the first half of next year, aiming to deepen diplomatic ties.

She said she and her Cambodia counterpart Hun Sen agreed to take necessary steps to deepen investment and trade relations considering the huge potential in the areas.

The two sides are also considering a proposal for opening of resident diplomatic missions in each other's capital.

The prime minister said an announcement was made for naming the Baridhara Park Road in Dhaka after late King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and naming Road-337 of the Cambodian capital after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

BNP REACTS

 The BNP reacted critically to the PM's comment about their participation in the election.

Party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the notion that the BNP would contest the polls regardless of the situation was wrong.

He also urged the PM to make responsible comments, leaving aside her ego.

“It is a political right of a party to participate in elections. In the context of Bangladesh, there is no question of taking part in an election by giving an undertaking. Rather those in power will be compelled to take initiatives to hold an inclusive election.

“We repeatedly said we do not want confrontation, instability. We want peaceful transfer of power through an inclusive election. If the prime minister is a responsible person, she will understand the expectations of the people.”

On PM's remark that the government would not hold talks with the BNP, he said, “It is her responsibility. It is the responsibility of the prime minister to ensure an election atmosphere and ensure participation of all political parties.” 

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