REF: Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia has sought President Md Abdul Hamid’s intervention to get a dialogue started with the government.
The President assured her of doing everything possible within the parameters of the Constitution, the BNP’s acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting at the Bangabhaban.
BNP chief Khaleda, along with 19 leaders of the Opposition alliance, discussed the current state of politics with the President for an hour.
The meeting came a day after eight new ministers were inducted in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s proposed ‘all-party’ cabinet to conduct the national polls.
The 18-Party alliance that the BNP leads has threatened to stay away from the national election unless a non-party caretaker is installed to oversee it.
Chances of a political confrontation loom large as the ruling Awami League-led government goes ahead with the ‘all-party’ interim cabinet ignoring the Opposition’s demand.
Hasina’s Awami League says the BNP is welcome to join the all-party interim cabinet and guarantees it enough representation.
But the BNP describes the interim cabinet as a ‘farce’.
“We approached the state’s guardian, the President, at this crucial juncture,” said Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
“We have requested him to take initiative to make the government come forward for talks to end the impasse.”
The BNP spokesperson said the Opposition had made it clear during the meeting that it wanted a free, fair and inclusive election.
He said the President had hoped the current crisis would be overcome through a dialogue.
Bangabhaban officials said the President urged both the government and Opposition to step up efforts for a dialogue.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad had called on the President earlier in the day before Khaleda.
He sought Abdul Hamid’s help to ensure all political parties take part in the parliamentary election amid the Opposition’s threat to boycott.
The BNP acting Secretary General had presented a two-page written statement on behalf of the Opposition coalition at the meeting with the President, which mostly reiterated the demand for a non-party caretaker government.
In the statement, the Opposition urged the President to ask the government to create a suitable environment for dialogue.
The government should move for an understanding for a free, fair and inclusive election under a non-party government with all political parties participating, it said.
Criticising the 15th constitutional amendment which annulled the caretaker government provision, the statement said the Prime Minister was moving towards holding ‘one-sided polls’.
The Opposition in the statement reiterated its threat to boycott such polls and it would not accept a situation where people are robbed of their right to vote.
The Opposition was sincere to have talks with the government to end the political crisis, the statement said.
But the government was creating obstructions by ‘reforming’ the cabinet and arresting senior Opposition leaders on false cases, it added.
The repression on the Opposition was also mentioned in the statement.
“Police shot dead at least 250 leaders and activists of the Opposition in one month,” it alleged.
It said an effort has to be made ‘to change the Constitution to uphold the will of the people’.
“The President has the experience and we hope he will surely rise above the narrow confines of sectarian politics to save the nation,” the statement said.
This was the first time Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia met President Abdul Hamid since he assumed office on Apr 24 this year.
Those who accompanied Khaleda to the President’s office on Tuesday evening were BNP leaders Mirza Fakhrul, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, ASM Hannan Shah, Jamiruddin Sircar, Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Abdul Moyeen Khan and Nazrul Islam Khan.
The Opposition entourage also included Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Amir AKM Nazir Ahmed, LDP Chairman Oli Ahmed, BJP Chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho, Islami Oikya Jote Chairman Abdul Latif Nezami, Khelafat Majlish Chairman Mohammad Ishaq, Kalyan Party Chairman Syed Mohammad Ibrahim, JaGPa President Shafiul Alam Prodhan, NPP Chairman Sheikh Shawkat Hossain Nilu, NDP Chairman Khandaker Golam Murtoja, NAP Chairman Jebel Rahman Gani and Labour Party Chairman Mustafizur Rahman Iran.
Earlier, Khaleda Zia’s convoy left for the presidential palace from her Gulshan residence around 5pm with her entourage. Her convoy reached the main gate of Bangabhaban around 45 minutes later.
The white Nissan Patrol carrying the Leader of the Opposition entered the presidential palace around 6:15pm after waiting nearly half an hour. She had reached Bangabhaban 30 minutes earlier than her scheduled appointment with the President.
However, her entourage had entered Bangabhaban before her.
She left Bangabhaban around 7:30pm after the hour-long meeting.