The Oikya Front was formed on October 13, 2018, with the demands of a national election under a neutral government after the dissolution of parliament and release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail
Dhaka: With Khaleda Zia being ruled out from contesting the upcoming general elections by the Dhaka high court, Bangladesh is fearing a possibility of one-sided polling.
Meanwhile, the international community which is 'concerned' with curtailing of democratic rights in the country further, has started holding meetings with the grand alliance of the opposition that includes Zia's BNP.
On Wednesday, a delegation of Jatiya Oikya Front, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, shared its worries and observations over the upcoming elections with foreign diplomats.
The diplomats who were there in the views-exchange meeting with Oikya Front represented nearly two dozens of foreign missions stationed in Dhaka, including the USA, Australia, Germany, India, China, Japan and Pakistan.
Also read: Bangladesh high court’s disqualification of Begum Khaleda Zia to fight elections offers virtual walkover to Sheikh Hasina Wazed
The national elections are scheduled to be held on December 30.
At the meeting, Dr Kamal Hossain, on behalf of Oikya Front, briefed the foreign envoys about the pre-polls violence and their concerns over fair balloting.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, its special secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon, executive committee member Tabith Awal, Gano Forum Executive President Subrata Chowdhury and Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury were also present in the meeting.
Chowdhury told MyNation that they discussed the overall election atmosphere in the country. “We informed the diplomats about the incidents of attacks on our candidates, their supporters across the country during election campaigns.”
He also said that the envoys were briefed about the arrest of their leaders, activists and candidates in false cases.
“We told the diplomats that our leaders and activists are unable to stay in their areas and homes due to harassment and intimidation by police and ruling party men,” Chowdhury added.
US Ambassador in Dhaka Earl R Miller told reporters, "We are concerned about the reports of violence, as I have said before...We all must eschew, avoid violence; and we all must condemn violence. That's the conversation we just had".
The Gono Forum leaders talked about the ‘biased role’ of the police and the Election Commission.
“Police are raiding the houses of our leaders and activists and intimidating voters, but the Election Commission is not taking any step to ensure a congenial election atmosphere and a level playing field,” said one of their members
He also said the party is fearing “bloodshed” on December 30 due to the government and the Election Commission’s “insincerity” to create a peaceful atmosphere in the country.
What is Jatiya Oikya Front?
The Oikya Front is an alliance of the BNP, Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gono Forum, ASM Abdur Rab's Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Mahmudur Rahman Manna's Nagorik Oikya.
The Oikya Front was formed on October 13, 2018, with the demands of a national election under a neutral government after the dissolution of parliament and release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
What are their demands?
The 11-point goal announced by the alliance included calls for balances in the state power, decentralisation of administration, freedom of MPs from the stringent restrictions imposed on them under article 70 of the Constitution, the formation of a Constitutional Commission to make appointments to all Constitutional and other important posts and full independence of the judiciary.
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Last Updated Dec 20, 2018, 12:14 PM IST