Awami League rethink about taking part in polls
Dhaka, Dec 13 (IANS) Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that her 14-party alliance, soon to be joined by three more constituents, is rethinking about participating in the January polls.
Resignations of four advisors on Monday have "deepened" the political crisis caused by the actions of President Iajuddin Ahmed, Hasina said, claiming that three more advisors were likely to quit.
"Despite having all preparations for participating in the polls, now we have to think whether we will take part in the election or not as the crisis in the government has deepened following the resignation of four advisers," Sheikh Hasina said while participating in a symposium on the current political situation.
The alliance is seeking the resignation of Ahmed, who is also doubling as Chief Advisor of the interim government that is tasked by the constitution to govern the country and hold "free and fair" polls.
The alliance will broaden its base with Jatiya Oikya Front, Jatiya Party (Ershad), Islami Oikya Front, Zaker Party and other parties joining in and will launch a movement "to press home their one-point demand-the chief adviser's resignation," The Daily Star said.
Political analysts said the crux of the problem is Ahmed's decision to deploy the armed forces across the country in aid of civil authority, but after having called it "unjust and un constitutional," Hasina has refrained from making it the cause of her confrontation.
The four advisors who resigned Monday also sought to de-link their decision from their earlier criticism of Ahmed's 'unilateral' action.
Significantly, Hasina's political rival and another former prime minister Khaleda Zia has supported the action and appealed to all parties to join the poll fray.
Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, coordinator of the Zia-led alliance, said that Ahmed was acting "within the Constitution."
If three more advisors resign, as per Hasina's claim, the 10-member Council that is supposed to assist Ahmed in running the government could be reduced to three, further eroding the government's credibility.
The continuing crisis has upset Bangladesh's "partners in development" - the donor nations and organizations, including the US, the UK, the European Union, Germany and Canada, among others.
Their envoys stationed in Dhaka were "shocked and worried" by the resignations, the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) said on Tuesday after speaking to them.
A spokesman for the US embassy told the news agency that the advisers' resignation would pose a serious challenge to the concept of neutral and non-party caretaker government.
"Their decision that they could no longer serve effectively, and that they had no recourse but resignation, is unfortunate and a serious challenge to the concept of a neutral and non-partisan caretaker government," the spokesman said.
He hoped that the chief adviser would take steps to break the political impasse afflicting the nation.
British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury, a diplomat of Bangladeshi origin, took it as an unfortunate development that "creates uncertainty over the functioning of the interim administration".
German Ambassador Frank Meyke noted that the resignation of "such dedicated patriots showed the seriousness of the situation."
Canadian High Commissioner Barbara Richardson said Canada is concerned to hear of the resignation of four advisers and the stated reasons for this unprecedented action.
She said the advisers accepted a very difficult task at a critical moment and they worked with integrity and diligence to honour that obligation.
"Their departure will be a significant loss for the caretaker government and its important work," Ms Richardson said.