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Khaleda vows to continue movement

28BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia said yesterday (Friday) that the 20-party alliance would continue its “peaceful movement”.
“Since the ruling party has not taken any initiative to restore normalcy and instead worsened the situation by its provocative behaviour, our peaceful movement will continue until it reaches a logical conclusion,” she told reporters at her Gulshan office in Dhaka. The former PM met the press after 67 days of the countrywide blockade. She, however, ended the 40-minute press conference without taking any questions from reporters.
At least 120 people have been killed in political violence since the launch of the indefinite countrywide blockade on January 6.
The BNP chief condemned the killing of innocent people, including children, in petrol bomb attacks and demanded exemplary punishment for the perpetrators after a proper investigation.
Rejecting the allegation against the 20-party alliance of killing people, she accused the Awami League of carrying out propaganda against her party and allies.
“The people are with us. We cannot make them the target of attacks. The question of our involvement in activities that would benefit the ruling party does not arise at all,” she added.
She said the key to resolving the crisis lies with the ruling party and it can open the door to reaching national unity by doing so.
“We had hoped to celebrate the forthcoming National Independence Day by getting rid of the crisis… And that good sense would prevail among the rulers and they will come to the path of consensus,” she added.
In a written statement, Khaleda said the country was passing through a deep political and constitutional crisis. “The government has pushed the nation towards an extreme uncertainty in a bid to hang on to power after it came to power through manipulations,” she alleged.
Khaleda alleged that the 15th Amendment to the Constitution had shut all doors to peaceful, democratic and normal transition of power, leaving no scope for holding a free, fair and neutral election.
“The roots of the current political crisis lies in there,” the BNP chairperson added.
She mentioned that there was an opportunity to amend the visible loopholes in the caretaker government system by reaching a consensus, but the ruling Awami League cancelled the system without arriving at any
consensus.
Terming last year’s January 5 national election as a lopsided one where 153 out of 300 lawmakers were elected unopposed, she said the unaccountable government had no moral right, base and jurisdiction to run the country.
The BNP chairperson accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of flouting her promise to hold a fresh election by dissolving the present Parliament, if they could arrive at a consensus on an election-time government.
She said it was a mistake to suspend the opposition movement after the January 5 election by believing Sheikh Hasina’s statement to hold a fresh
election.
The result was that they unleashed a reign of terror in the name of carrying out drives by the joint forces, she added.
Despite taking away the right to normal politics, the BNP waited for a year and called the government repeatedly for a dialogue to resolve the political impasse, but the government has chosen the path of violence and clashes, she said.
“We put forward a seven-point proposal as the basis for a dialogue, but they rejected our proposal immediately. Under such circumstances, there was no way left for us to restore the rights of the people, including the right to franchise. So we have been forced to announce the movement,” she said.
Referring to the sufferings of people and damage during the movement, she said her party and allies understood it, but the ruling party has not come to its senses.
Khaleda urged all to accept this temporary phase of suffering in the greater interest of the country, adding that the movement would be successful soon if everyone took part in it with courage.
The BNP chairperson demanded the immediate release of BNP joint secretary general Salahuddin Ahmed, who has been missing since Tuesday night, and said the consequence would not be good if the BNP leader was not released.
Expressing her sympathy for the families of those killed, injured and arrested during the ongoing 20-party movement, she assured them she would stand by them after the change of time.
The BNP chief accused the government of resorting to a policy of vengeance to resist their democratic movement which has undermined national unity and pushed the country to the edge.
She put forward a three-point proposal to overcome the present crisis. The proposals include release of all political prisoners, ending extra-judicial killings, abduction, and killing, withdrawal of all false cases filed against Opposition leaders and activists.
The other proposals were withdrawal of restrictions on all political activities, including holding meetings and rallies, and arranging a dialogue for an inclusive poll under a caretaker government acceptable to all.
Khaleda made it clear that their movement was neither against any individual nor any party but for ideals. “The movement is not for capturing power but it is to build up a democratic and self-dependent Bangladesh,” she added.
She asked “inactive” party leaders to become active and take to the streets to carry forward the movement. She also called upon everyone, irrespective of caste and creed, to join the movement.
Khaleda Zia also accused the ruling Awami League of spreading canards against the alliance to create confusion among the people that their movement was to prevent the trial of Sheikh Mujib’s killers and war criminals.
BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, BNP vice-chairperson Selima Rahman, BNP chairperson’s adviser Abdul Quaiyum, and press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan Sohel, among others, were present on the occasion.