Govt must quit soon: Khaleda

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Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia on Monday said the incumbent ‘illegal’ government was staying in power by means of weapons, not by people’s mandate and it must quit ‘very soon’.
In a large public meeting at the Suhrawardy Udyan in the city, she urged the government to initiate discussions immediately for holding a free, fair and inclusive election under a non-party neutral government to restore peace and democratic rights of the people.
In her first public meeting after the January 5 general elections boycotted by her party and the alliance, Khaleda also urged prime minister Sheikh Hasina to test her party’s popularity by immediately holding a fair and inclusive election.
Otherwise, she said the AL would lose ‘even the five per cent vote’ it had polled in the January 5 ‘one-sided’ election.
The BNP organised the as part of its programme to hold countrywide rallies and processions to ‘thank’ the people for staging ‘silent revolution’ on January 5 against ‘snatching of people’s voting rights and killing of democracy’ by the government.
The BNP chairperson had last addressed a public meeting at Suhrawardy Udyan on October 25 last year.
Leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, a major ally of BNP, were conspicuous by their absence in the rally addressed by leaders of some other partners of the opposition 18-party alliance. Khaleda Zia presided over the rally.
After a call from European Parliament on Bangladesh Nationalist Party to leave Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam, the first rally of BNP at Suhrawardy Udyan saw participation of no leader or activist of the Islamist party.
BNP leaders said Jamaat might have skipped the rally on ‘strategic’ grounds but Jamaat leaders said they were asked not to join the rally despite their preparations.
Khaleda at a news conference on January 15 had announced the day’s programme in presence of the leaders of the alliance components, including Jamaat-e-Islami, but did not make clear whether it was BNP’s own programme or that of the alliance. At a briefing on Sunday, BNP said the day’s rally was the party’s own programme.
In her nearly one-hour speech from 4:30pm, Khaleda said the day’s huge rally had proved that the people had rejected the January 5 ‘farcical’ election. She said it was also proved that polls could not be held only by means of muscle power.
The BNP chief said this government would be ‘short-lived’ and the people would remove it ‘very soon’ no matter however hard it tried to cling to power.
Khaleda said Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad had staged a lot of drama that included his playing golf while in detention in the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka cantonment.
The BNP chief said that Ershad, in return for Hasina’s participating in the election under him in 1986 by breaching an agreement that none would contest the polls under the autocrat, this time joined the polls under her.
Khaleda censured the joint forces’ operation in different parts of the country, including in Satkhira and Gaibanda, and accused the government of unleashing repression on the opposition and innocent people. She asked the government to immediately stop ‘repression, killings and abductions’ in the name of joint operation.
She termed the government ‘terrorist, killers, corrupt and plunderer’ and alleged that top terrors had been freed from jail to unleash repression and kill opposition activists.
Khaleda said there was a ‘question’ in people’s minds about the ‘identities’ of the members of the joint forces as, she said, the police and other law enforcers of the country could not carry out such ‘brutal’ attacks and ‘repression’ on their fellow countrymen.
She said it did not seem by the activities of this government that the country’s independence and sovereignty remained intact.
The BNP chairperson urged the people of all professions and freedom fighters to launch a united movement to protect the independence.
Referring to the prime minister’s remarks that she did not give in to any ‘phone call’ (indicating foreign powers), Khaleda said actually it was the other way round, that she (Hasina) stood up saluting the person on the other side while receiving ‘certain phone calls’.
She protested at the government’s action against the daily Inqilab and arrest of its reporters for publishing a news report which were already posted online.
Khaleda said the international community was asking the government for immediately arranging discussions for a fair and inclusive election.
Foreign investment would not come as long as a ‘people’s government’ was not established, she said.
BNP leaders Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Mahbubur Rahman, Jamiruddin Sircar, Abdul Moyeen Khan, Selima Rahman, Shamsuzzaman Dudu, Zainul Abdin Farroque, Jatiya Party faction chairman Kazi Zafar Ahmed, Liberal Democratic Party chairman Oli Ahmed, Bangladesh Jatiya Party chairman Andalib Rahman Partha, JAGPA president Shafiul Alam Prodhan and Kalyan Party chairman Syed M Ibrahim among others addressed the rally.

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