Political parties protest efforts to exile former Bangladesh PMs
Apr 23, 2007 - 9:53:01 AM

Dhaka, April 23 - Several political leaders in Bangladesh have protested efforts of the Fakhruddin Ahmed regime to exile the two former prime ministers Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina.

The first set of vocal protests in the last three months since the national emergency was imposed cantered on the government's political plans that have been termed 'minus two' - meaning politics without the two women leaders.

Leaders on both sides of the political divide termed the machinations put in motion to send the two into exile as 'nothing more than an attempt to destabilise the political order and subvert the political process', the New Age newspaper said Monday quoting several leaders.

The government on its part said these protests, albeit expressed indoors and on media network, were proof of its intention of not muzzling politics as such. An influential advisor told media that the national emergency would be lifted 'if the political parties become democratic'.

The government was against 'rule by families' and by leaders who ran parties like fiefdoms, without holding organisational elections, Law Advisor Mainum Hosein said.

On political reforms, the adviser said 'one should not become prime minister or party chief repeatedly'.

'There should be democracy inside a party too... A family member of a party chief may be competent but she should come through the political process,' he said.

Criticising the past practices of political parties, Mainul Hosein said genuine politicians had been deprived and cornered in the parties.

He noted that since the recent changeover, the government has been speaking in favour of bringing changes in party politics, which was marked by 'family dynasty and loyalty to the individual'.

'The looming exile of Khaleda and Hasina, however, has jump-started the scramble, in both camps, to fill the vacuum that a prolonged absence of the two leaders will leave behind,' said New Age newspaper on Monday.

Among leaders protesting the move is Workers Party of Bangladesh president, Rashed Khan Menon. He told New Age: 'The interim government's steps barring Sheikh Hasina from entering the country and forcing Khaleda Zia into exile are against the law and democratic norms.'

The Communist Party of Bangladesh general secretary, Mujahidul Islam Selim, said: 'The interim government is playing a dangerous game in its handling of the two top leaders. The conspirators themselves may get caught in troubled water.'

The Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal convener, Khalequzzaman, said: 'Sending the two leaders out of the political process was not a vital issue for the people... If they are guilty they must be tried following the existing laws of the land.'

Former Awami League whip Faruk Khan said: 'This is a difficult time for politics. I personally believe that the two top leaders of the country should be allowed to stay or enter at home willingly.'

A BNP vice-chairman said: 'The agents of the interim powerbase are working to create controversies and confusion among the political parties and their leaders across the country. It is not new in Bangladesh politics.'

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