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‘Next election as per constitution, no neutral govt to come to power’

Law Minister Anisul Huq has said the next general election in Bangladesh will be held in constitutional way.

“There will be no neutral or caretaker government. The Election Commission will conduct the election. Inshallah, there will be a free and fair election,” he said while speaking at a workers’ meeting organised by Akhaura Upazila Awami League at Akhaura Upazila Parishad auditorium early Saturday afternoon.

Referring to the caretaker government, the Law Minister said there was a time when caretaker government used to be formed for three months before the election. A writ petition was submitted to the High Court questioning the legality of the caretaker government. The High Court delivered a judgement declaring the caretaker government provision in the constitution “unlawful.”

Later, the Appellate Division also delivered a rule declaring the caretaker government in the constitution ‘unlawful.’

Bangladesh introduced the caretaker government system in 1996 under pressure of the then opposition parties led by Sheikh Hasina. Begum Khaleda Zia led Bangladesh Nationalist Party had to give in to the opposition demand for forming a neutral caretaker government as the opposition refused to take part in election under BNP.

Top members of the caretaker government did not represent any political party; nor were they allowed to contest the elections. The main objective of the caretaker government was to create a level playing field environment in which an election could be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence by the outgoing government.

The Awami League (AL) was elected through the under a caretaker government in 1996 and BNP came out victorious in 2001.

The AL soon abolished the provision of neutral caretaker government in 2011 despite most members of the all party parliamentary standing committee formed to consider the caretaker government opined in favour and majority of the amicus curiae vociferously defended the system. But Sheikh Hasina stood in the way. That’s why Bangladesh had an election held in 2014 that saw 154 parliamentary members elected before a single vote had been cast or in 2018 nocturnal ballot stuffing by the ruling party goons ensured their victory.

The Law Minister also said scrapping the caretaker government system, the parliament passed a bill deciding to hold the elections as per the constitution of 1972. The next election will also be held according to that decision.

Pointing to the remarks of BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir that there is no rule of law existed in the country, the Law Minister said the Father of the Nation was assassinated along with his family members on August 15, 1975. Khondker Mushtaque Ahmed and Ziaur Rahman passed the Indemnity Bill blocking the trial of the killers involved in Bangabandhu killing.

“People now follow what is there in the laws. Now, there is a rule of law in the country. None will be able to say that trial of the killings does not take place in the country. BNP could not try the killers of Ziaur Rahman. But, they say about the rule of law,” he said.

With Akhaura Upazila Awami League president Mohammad Ali Chowdhury in the chair, the meeting was also addressed by Upazila Awami League general secretary Md Takjil Khalifa Kajol, foermer joint convener of Awami League Selim Bhuiyan, Monir Hossain Babul, Poura AL president Advocate Abdullah Bhuiyan Badal, general secretary Kazi Liton Khadem, Mohila Vice Chairman Nasrin Shafiq Aleya, Jubo League joint convener Md Nazim, Abdul Momin Babul, Akhaura North Union general secretary Md Mojibar Rahman Nannu, Chhatra League president Shahab Uddin Baig Shaplu and general secretary Sakhawat Hossain Nayan, among others.