Sep 15, 2009

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes

The Awami League (AL) may go for tougher programmes, including street agitations, in a couple of weeks to force the government to withdraw all charges against Sheikh Hasina and lift the state of emergency.

The party will also speak out against holding upazila elections ahead of the general elections at its meetings with the Election Commission (EC) on September 4 and 9, party leaders said.

The programmes came up for discussion at the AL’s Central Working Committee meeting at its Dhanmondi office yesterday. The meeting, presided over by acting AL President Zillur Rahman, was adjourned till 11:00am today.

Sources said today’s meeting will review the latest political development and its fallout, not least the possible release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.

Acting AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters that the government should free all people arrested in the anti-corruption drive before releasing Tarique, who he said ran a parallel government during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government and became the “world champion in corruption”.

On Tarique’s bail in all the cases against him, Zillur Rahman said people would put him on trial.

He said the BNP was directly collaborating with the caretaker government.

“We’ll have to take a tough stance as without showing force the government seems reluctant to pay heed to our demands,” Organising Secretary Abdul Mannan told the meeting.

Party leaders said they will oppose some provisions of the Representation of the People’s Order (RPO), 2008 on political party registration at their meetings with the EC.

They said they will ask the commission not to ban front organisations and foreign chapters of political parties as well as not to include “no-vote” option on ballot papers.

The party will not get registered with the EC if the conditions are not addressed, they said.

AL leader Col (retd) Faruk Khan told The Daily Star that they would first try to reach a consensus with the government and the EC through discussions.

“If they do not meet our demands, then we shall have no alternative but to go for movements,” he said.

The AL may warn the government that it would stay away from any polls to ensure that the government withdraws all charges against Hasina.

Referring to “conspiracies” to foil timely general elections, Syed Ashraful Islam said if the parliamentary polls are not held in December, it might not be held even in the next five years.

“A man’s death in a gas-cylinder explosion of a mini van, after Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal activists set fire to it, and unrest in the garment sector are nothing but indications of a bid to foil the national elections.”

Terming the two incidents staged plays, Ashraful said the vested quarters who do not want democracy in the country are doing this.

He criticised the government for allowing BNP-Jamaat alliance leaders to hold a political meeting with Khaleda Zia inside the special jail and said it was part of a conspiracy to foil the general elections.

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Staff Correspondent

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) assured Bangladesh of not retrenching Bangladeshi workers and sending them back, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said yesterday after his visit to the gulf nation last week.

The workers who have completed their job contracts are returning from the UAE. So, there is nothing to worry, said Faruk who held official talks with UAE Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi in Abu Dhabi last week.

Meanwhile, a total of 102 Bangladeshi workers returned from abroad on special travel passes yesterday. Of them, 56 returned from the UAE while 35 from Malaysia, nine from Kuwait and two from Saudi Arabia.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday requested the UAE government to retain the Bangladeshi workers and extend their job contracts, says a foreign ministry press release.

After attending an international dialogue on migration in Geneva, Mahmud is now visiting the UAE where there around 9 lakh Bangladeshi workers, the second largest labour market after Saudi Arabia.

The government is making such efforts as Bangladeshi workers abroad are being axed following the global economic recession. Already, increased numbers of Bangladeshis have returned home from Malaysia, Singapore, UAE and Saudi Arabia that creates an uncertainty over overseas job market of Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Expatriates' Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain are also visiting Malaysia. Dipu Moni held talks with some high-ranking ministers of Malaysia, while Mosharraf is scheduled to meet its home and human resources minister to talk on the labour issue.

Dr Hasan Mahmud during his meeting with the UAE Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash discussed the ways to best address the challenges of the ongoing economic meltdown, including easing the procedure of changing residency visa and online access for visa verification to avoid visa forgery.

Bangladeshi workers are often deported from Dubai Airport because of visa forgery that causes losses to both the workers and the manpower business.

鉄uch visa forgery is possible because there is no scope to verify genuineness of the visas issued by the UAE. It can be verified through online system like other countries to check forgery,・said an official.

During the meeting, Saqr Ghobash said protection of workers must start from the country of origin as those workers should not arrive in the UAE saddled with debts, Gulf News from Dubai reported yesterday.

Dr Hasan Mahmud also met his counterpart Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash at UAE foreign affairs ministry and discussed the bilateral matters, including trade, investment and Bangladeshi labours working in the Gulf country.

The state minister requested for more UAE investment in Bangladesh in energy, refinery and other areas of infrastructure.

Dr Hasan Mahmud also attended the National Day reception hosted by the ambassador at Hotel Hilton as special guest and met the ministers, high dignitaries and a cross section of Bangladeshi people living in the UAE.

At a reception organised by Bangabandhu Parishad in the UAE, Mahmud urged the Bangladeshi community members to work for the country and help establish Bangladeshi expatriates in the UAE as a disciplined and law-abiding community.

Detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia

Detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia may be released any day, said communications adviser Ghulam Quader on Sunday.

Asked if the BNP chairperson would be released from special jail this week, Quader told reporters he was not in a position to specify the exact date and time.

“It’s certain that Khaleda Zia will be freed, but I can’t tell you exactly when it will happen,” the adviser said, adding that the legal procedure involved was taking time.

Asked to comment on Awami League’s criticism of the government over the release of BNP senior secretary general Tarique Rahman, Quader said: “Releasing someone from jail custody comes under the purview of the law courts. The government cannot detain or release anyone without the court’s accord.”

“The matter of granting bail to the detainee lies with the court and we all know that the judiciary has been working independently for quite some time now,” said the adviser.

The legal proceedings as regards any graft case are going on unhindered, he added.

Replying to a query, Quader said: “No, the government hasn’t retreated from its stance of combating and uprooting corruption.”

“The antigraft campaign is going on in full swing.”

On the government’s stance on political parties’ claim that the Election Commission was biased in attitude or action, the adviser said: “The Election Commission has been performing neutrally and has established its efficiency and efficacy beyond everybody’s doubts by successfully holding polls to four city corporations and nine municipalities.”

“The forthcoming Jatiya Sangsad elections will also be held under the stewardship of the present CEC.”

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Chief Justice MM Ruhul Amin administered

Veteran Awami League (AL) leader Zillur Rahman was sworn in as the country’s 19th president in a simple ceremony at Bangabhaban yesterday.

Chief Justice MM Ruhul Amin administered the oath of office and secrecy to Zillur at the Darbar Hall of the presidential palace in the evening. Zillur is the fifth president elected by the Jatiya Sangsad since the parliamentary system was restored in 1991.

The Election Commission (EC) Wednesday declared Zillur, an AL presidential nominee, elected president unopposed. Zillur was the deputy leader of the House.

Among those who witnessed the investiture were Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Abdul Hamid, Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali, chief advisers to caretaker governments Fakhruddin Ahmed and Justice Latifur Rahman, Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, ministers, members of parliament, judges of the Supreme Court, and senior civil service and military officials.

Sep 14, 2009

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