AL writes to Khaleda on all-party nominee

The ruling Awami League has written to BNP to nominate its representative to the all-party parliamentary committee that will review the country’s constitution as per the High Court’s verdict.

Chief whip Abdus Shahid on Sunday night mailed a letter addressed to Khaleda Zia requesting the chief of the largest party in opposition to send in the name of the nominee for the panel, which will be formed soon.

“On Sunday night, I sent the letter to the leader of the opposition to nominate one BNP nominee to the all-party parliamentary committee,” Shahid told bdews24.

He said the messenger confirmed that Khaleda’s assistant personal secretary had received the letter at her Gulshan office.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday announced that the government would form the all-party committee to review the constitution as per the court directives, which declared the Fifth Amendment to the constitution illegal.

The BNP considers the Fifth Amendment essential to the country’s democracy.

But the Awami League brands it an “illegal and unconstitutional act of the autocratic military ruler Lt Gen Ziaur Rahman, the de facto founder of the BNP.

Zia became the chief martial law administrator in 1975, about three months after the assassination of Bangladesh’s independence architect Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Aug 15, 1975.

Hasina is the eldest daughter of Sheikh Mujib, whose Awami League led the nation through a bloody nine-month war to independence from Pakistan.

Soon after ascending to power, Gen Zia amended the constitution by a military order and brought about some basic changes. He allowed the alleged war criminals, who collaborated with the Pakistan army during the war, to do politics.

According to the country’s constitution, any change to the constitution must be carried out with two-thirds majority in parliament.

Mujib’s government debarred the alleged war criminals from politics.

Zia also inserted “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim” into the constitution and deleted the term socialism.

The military ruler also ordered that none could challenge the actions took place from Aug 15, 1975 to April 1979 in the court.

The High Court its ruling on the Fifth Amendment in August 2005 declared regimes between Aug 15, 1975 and 1979, headed by Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed, Abu Sa’dat Mohammad Sayem and Ziaur Rahman illegal. The effect of the verdict was stayed for years as the case lied pending with the Supreme Court for final settlement.

Senior ministers, including law minister Shafiq Ahmed, on several occasions said the government would return to the ’72 constitution, the main one adopted after Bangladesh’s independence that contained the four basic principles on which the war of independence had been fought.

If the constitution was amended deleting the Fifth Amendment clauses, the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami would lose the right to pursue politics.

The centre-right Jamaat, whose top leaders have recently been arrested on charges of war crimes, is the BNP’s main ally in Bangladesh politics.

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