Awami League senior leaders Saturday urged the Prime Minister to open immediate discussion on reforms of the caretaker government and the Election Commission (EC) without creating any smokescreens, reports UNB.
"A plan is underway to appoint election observers without creating an appropriate atmosphere for free and credible elections," AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil said at a seminar on 'Practice of Democracy: Importance of Free and Fair Elections in Bangladesh' at a city hotel.
Jalil said an international game that has begun centering the forthcoming elections must stop as, he said, the foreigners could give us advice but not instruction.
Presided over by Justice KM Sobhan, the opening session was addressed by Law Minister Moudud Ahmed, AL-leaders Surunjit Sengupta and Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Mainul Hossain, Forest E Cookson of Research and Development Centre, NDI country representative Owen Llippart.
Dr Shirin Chowdhury presented the keynote paper at the seminar, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA).
Moudud Ahmed said, all political parties should work together to consolidate democracy, observing that any programme or statement that might damage the democratic institutions should be avoided.
As Moudud was making his statement, few members of the audience protested some of his remarks and blamed him for distorting the role of Bangabandhu and the history of the Liberation War. Although the organisers pacified the protesters, the Law Minister left the seminar immediately after completing his speech.
AL presidium member Surunjit Sengupta said, the government should keep in mind that alternative to discussion is confrontation and hostile politics. He said, the people want a neutral caretaker government alongside a transparent electoral process. But, the government is not interested in holding any discussion on reforms, he added.
Shirin Chowdhury, in her keynote paper said, Bangladesh is now facing a challenge in practicing democracy. Prolonged military rule and various amendments to the constitution have obstructed the democratic dispensation, she also said.
Shirin cautioned that the current standoff between the government and the opposition on the reforms has not only created an atmosphere of enmity but it might also create a deep constitutional crisis. Since the time has not yet run out, the government and the opposition should work out ways for a free, fair and peaceful election, she added.