Allies protest Sheikh Hasina's pact with Islamists

The Awami League has run into trouble with its allies for forging a separate pact with an Islamist group for the parliamentary elections.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 15:54 IST

The Awami League of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina has run into serious trouble with its allies for forging a separate pact with an Islamist group for the January 22 parliamentary elections.

Leaders of the 14-party alliance Saturday confronted her with an ultimatum, warning that the alliance could split if she continued with her seat sharing arrangements with the Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKM).

There was opposition from within the Awami League as well. The party first denied any agreement and then sought to explain it away by claiming it was merely an understanding, media reports said on Monday.

The Awami League has in the past also hobnobbed with Islamist groups out of electoral expediency while espousing secular values.

Islamist groups were part of the broad front in the movement against former military ruler HM Ershad in 1990.

That alliance included both the Awami League and Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Subsequently, they forged themselves into an Islami Oikya Jote (Islamic United Front) and have been part of the Zia-led alliance and members of her government during 2001-06.

According to the pact signed by Awami League leader Abdul Jalil and BKM's Maulana Azizul Haq, the Awami League alliance, if it takes power, will ensure that there is no law repugnant to "Islamic values" and enact a law to punish anyone criticising Prophet Mohammed.

The allies, including the communists, told Hasina that this was a negation of the secular values they cherished.

Media reports said Hasina was also facing seat-sharing problems with allies, besides the new entrant Ershad-led Jatiya Party.

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 12:53 IST