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BNP rejects move on presidential reference on polls

The party has rejected proposals for a presidential reference to the Supreme Court to have the elections postponed in Bangladesh.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 15:54 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), deep into its campaign as head of a four-party alliance, has rejected proposals for a presidential reference to the Supreme Court to have the general elections postponed to accommodate the Awami League-led grouping.

The BNP reaction late on Sunday was on expected lines, analysts said, as the issue was foreclosed a day earlier by President Iajuddin Ahmed, also chief advisor of the caretaker government conducting the polls due on January 22.

"At the present stage of the elections, there is no scope for sending a reference to court," the president said in a statement.

The statement was made "without our knowledge", the New Age newspaper Monday quoted one of Ahmed's unidentified advisors as saying.

After Ahmed's 5,000-word statement, three advisers to the caretaker government met leaders of the BNP-led alliance Sunday afternoon. By the end of the day, a strong rejection came from BNP secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.

Article 106 of the constitution provides for a presidential reference to the apex court to seek change in the poll schedule, allowing an election postponement beyond the 90-day tenure of the caretaker government. That period, at present, ends on January 25.

Experts say this is the only recourse Ahmed can take in the absence of the National Assembly that could amend the statute.

The move came even as a "blockade" by the Awami League-led "grand alliance" Sunday witnessed numerous violent incidents and clashes, both among political workers and between protestors and law-keeping agencies.

The media on Monday reported several incidents of use of rubber bullets and teargas to quell protesting workers. Many were injured, but no casualties have been reported.

The armed forces, deployed several weeks before the polling day by Ahmed, have sought "more powers" beyond what the constitution provides to be able to "arrest anyone from any place" to maintain law and order in and around polling stations, specifically to keep away those opposing the elections, The Daily Star reported.

Analysts said the move is bound to cause further provocations among the parties campaigning against the polls.

They point to the use of the armed forces during the 2001 polls and later when political opponents and religious minorities were targeted.

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