Tue, October 18, 2011
World > Asia-Pacific

Bangladesh opposition holds second anti-gov't road march from Dhaka

2011-10-18 08:21:53 GMT2011-10-18 16:21:53(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

DHAKA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's main opposition alliance started its second road march towards a northwestern district town from capital Dhaka Tuesday morning, aiming to drum up public support for realizing its demands including restoration of a non-party caretaker system and resignation of the incumbent government.

About 2,000 cars, jeeps and microbus containing thousands of leaders and activists are in the motorcade of the road march towards Chapainawabganj district, led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chief and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Begum Khaleda Zia, Senior BNP Spokesman Rizvi Ahmed told Xinhua.

He said Zia, also two-time former prime minister of Bangladesh, would address public meetings at six points including two grand rallies on the road march of about 302 km from capital Dhaka to Chapainawabganj.

The BNP-led four-party opposition alliance has also accused incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's nearly three-year-old government of failing to rein in soaring inflation, safeguard small stock investors interest and improve law and order situation.

The inflation rate on a point-to-point basis in Bangladesh reached nearly 12 percent in September this year, highest in decades, on the back of soaring food and fuel prices.

Against this backdrop, BNP and its allies, including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, are demanding resignation of incumbent Bangladesh Awami League (AL)-led government and an early national elections.

Innumerable men, women and children stood on both sides of road to have a glimpse of the opposition leader as her motorcade began to move forward from Dhaka, Ahmed said, adding they cheered at her and chanted slogans, showered petals while some presented her sheaves of paddy, the election symbol of BNP.

The road march, covering five northern districts, came a week after the first cross country caravan march towards Sylhet city, some 241 km northeast of Dhaka.

Apart from leaders and activists of BNP and its allies, including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, Ahmed said, many other like-minded political parties, which are also demanding resignation of the incumbent government and reinstatement of the caretaker system, have joined the road march.

Bangladesh Parliament on June 30 this year passed "The Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Bill-2011", bringing a series of changes, including repeal of the provision for holding national elections under a non-party caretaker government which means that Hasina's incumbent AL-led government will stay in power during the next parliamentary elections slated for early 2014.

The BNP chief in her addresses during the first road march said her party would not participate in parliamentary election unless held under a nonparty caretaker government.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, questioned the justification of the BNP chief's demand for holding the next parliamentary election under a caretaker government.

"How can you be so sure that you will return to power if the next general election is held under the caretaker system?" Hasina was quoted as saying in a public rally outside capital Dhaka recently by local news agency UNB.

Criticizing the opposition's demand for restoring caretaker system, she said they want such a system in the country under which they would not have to face punishment for vote rigging, killings and other crimes.

In the South Asian country, which has a history of frequent electoral fraud and violence, the caretaker government system was institutionalized through the 13th amendment in constitution in 1996 by the then BNP government under pressure from the then main opposition AL.

Since 1996, the caretaker government, the main objective of which is to create such an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government, has held the elections of 1996, 2001 and 2008, which were recognized as free and fair by local and international observers.

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