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No special move for BNP's election participation: PM

Published : Thursday, 7 December, 2017 at 8:32 PM Count : 88

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday ruled out possibilities of any special initiative on her part to ensure BNP's polls participation unlike the past saying the 2018 polls would be held as parliamentary democracy is practiced in other countries.

"I'm not going to pour butter in an improper saucepan . . . (but) the election will not wait for the absentees (either)," she told at a press conference at her Gonobhaban residence.

Sheikh Hasina added a particular political party would have to decide if it would contest the polls but "I don't think that BNP will repeat the mistake it did in 2014".

The premier made the comments responding to repeated queries by newsmen on
the issue when she also reminded all the "utter misconduct and humiliation"
she faced from the BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia ahead of the 2014 elections as
she tried to reach her out.

The premier called press conference to explain the background and outcome of just concluded Cambodia visit but issues related to elections, Rohingya crisis, corruption charges against the BNP chief and her family virtually dominated the presser.

Sheikh Hasina, however, highlighted the achievements of her three-day Cambodia visit and future plan of the government to strengthen ties with Phnom Penh in different fields in a written statement at the beginning of the
press conference.

Replying to a question the prime minister also ruled out possibilities of early elections saying that "the country is not in any crisis for which it should go for snap poll".

Responding to a question on Rohingya crisis the Prime Minister said her government continued to receive enormous global supports on the issue and during her Cambodia tour she requested Phnom Penh to pursue ASEAN leaders to
support the Rohingya cause as well.

Asked for comments on a recent remark of Khaleda Zia about granting pardon if BNP returned to power, the premier said she found the comment to be ambiguous.

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

"What offense I have committed for which I need her pardon," the premier said.

Rather, she said, the BNP chairperson should seek apology for the murder of former finance minister Shah MS Kibria, Ahasanullah Master, MP, the August 21, 2004 grenade attack carnage and the killings of several thousand Awami
League leaders and workers after assuming office in 2001".

The premier also accused BNP of all attempts on her life saying "every incident took place following their instigation and threats".

"They planted 76 kg bomb to kill me after declaring that I would never be able to become prime minister neither leader of the opposition," she said.

About the corruption charges against BNP chairperson, the prime minister said the Awami League government did not file any case against her unlike what BNP government did by lodging nearly one dozen of case against her.

"All corruption charges against Khaleda Zia was brought by the past caretaker government which was represented by the people including the President, Chief of the Caretaker Government and the then Army Chief, all were favorable to Khaleda Zia," she said.

Criticizing Khaleda Zia for her attitude to skip justice system the premier said she applied for staying a graft case more than 150 times and filed 22/23 writ petitions to delay the procedure.

"Every time on her way to the court she (Khaleda Zia) created a chaos and disturbance in the city life," the prime minister said particularly referring to attack on Awami League lawmaker Chhobi Biswas and police by BNP supporters.

Sheikh Hasina also recalled the arson attack on BNP and jamaat across the country in 2013, 2014 and 2015 saying 'for those misdeeds Khaleda Zia herself should seek apology to the nation".

About the allegation against Khaleda Zia of siphoning out huge amount of wealth to Saudi Arabia the prime minister said it is lamentable that the news has come from foreign press, not in the local ones.

"It is very unfortunate that I have seen no interest in local media, except two channels and two newspapers to disseminate the news," she said adding that her government issued licenses to the most of the newspapers and television channels now operating in the country.

"But I don't understand why the media is so weak to the patrons of assailants and anti-liberation forces," she said urging media owners and journalists to show more courage in focusing on such news having national interests.

The prime minister said Cambodia is one of the most friendly nations among the South-East Asian countries and a historical, religious, cultural and linguistic close relations exist between Bangladesh and Cambodia since the ancient period.

"Both the countries got their independence through a blood spattered liberation war breaking the colonial rule and oppression during the 1970s," she said.

Sheikh Hasina recalled that the two countries endured genocide and war crimes against humanity and stood up with their heads high before the world community.

She remembered that the relations between the two countries began the journey after a meeting between Bangabandhu and late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk at the NAM Summit held in Algiers in 1973.

The premier said there are similarities in socioeconomic development of the two countries and both the nations reached closer to becoming middle income states.

"That's why, Bangladesh and Cambodia will both benefit through their effective cooperation," she said.

The prime minister said after arriving at Phnom Penh on December 3, she paid homage to the war heroes and the late King Norodom Sihanouk by laying wreaths at the Independence Monument and Monument of the late King.

She also visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where historical evidence of the civil war in Cambodia has been preserved.

About the formal bilateral meeting between the two sides, the prime minister said entire gamut of bilateral issues including issues on further enhancing trade and investment, cooperation on agriculture, fisheries, civil aviation, ICT, labour and vocational training, aquaculture and tourism came up for discussion.

Both sides, she said, decided to hold the first foreign minister-level meeting on Joint Commission in the first half of next year aiming to deepen diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Besides, they also agreed to hold the first meeting of the Joint Trade Council next year to infuse dynamism into the trade relations, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed for holding foreign ministry-level review meeting on regular basis.

She said the two leaders agreed to take necessary measures for deepening trade and investment relations considering the huge potential on bilateral trade and investment.

About her proposal for simplification of visa for Bangladeshi businessmen, Sheikh Hasina said Hun Sen agreed to provide long term visa facility with multiple entries for the businessmen.

Besides, the two sides are also considering a proposal for opening of resident diplomatic missions in each other's capital, she said.

The prime minister said an announcement was made for naming the Baridhara Park Road in Dhaka after late King Norodom Sihanouk and naming Road No 337 of the Cambodian capital after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Hasina said during the visit she also paid a courtesy call on the Cabodian King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace.

She also held meetings with National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Senate President Pheakdey Say Chhum, while half brother of the current King and President of FUNCINPEC Party Prince Norodom Ranariddh called on her.

Sheikh Hasina said she also attended a business dialogue arranged by the Cambodian Chamber where she called upon the businessmen to explore the opportunity and potential for boosting trade and investment between the two countries.

Sheikh Hasina said her government is working hard to complete the current projects as previous experience is bitter as many development projects faced serious obstacles in the past after change of the government.

"The pace of development initiated by the Awami League is unparallel. And, we can certainly claim that no government in the past could achieve such a success within a very short time in every area. So we want to complete our unfinished tasks," she said.

Pointing out the World Bank's allegation against her government, the prime minister said her government has faced the challenge with all honesty and courage although many quarters left no stone unturned to level it as corrupt.

"Now I don't know whether you feel honoured as my name came amongst three most honest political leaders in the world," the prime minister told the journalists.

Replying to a question about high race and inner fight for nomination in the Awami League, the prime minister said it's the right of a political leader to seek nomination. "We want many flowers to blossom and we will pick up the best one," she said adding the exercise is good for democracy.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has attached importance to balanced development of different parts of the country. So people will certainly vote for Awami League candidate if they want development, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Awami League will always try to field the best candidate aimed at materializing the dream of Bangabandhu. Awami League has proved the fact that the country can prosper under its leadership.

"However, it's the decision of the voters to whom they will give their vote," she said adding, Awami League always believes that it will remain in power "if people give us vote, otherwise not."

Replying to question, the Prime Minister said Tqrique Zia is a convicted man. So the government is in constant touch with the UK government to bring him back to the country. Tarique Zia must come back to the country and face trial for corruption and money laundering, she said.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Kader were present at the press conference conducted by PM's press secretary Ihsanul Karim.

Senior journalists, editors of different dailies, news agencies and television channels were present.

BSS/SU





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