South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Awami League president Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said her party is in favour of restricting the tenure of caretaker government (CG) to 90 days, suggesting the CG’s failure to hold elections by the stipulated time would result in reinstating the previous government to do so.

Hasina, also the prime minister, opined for having Islam as state religion and said people of other religions will enjoy equal rights and respect.

She said these at a press briefing at Gonobhaban in the afternoon after making clear her party’s stance on some crucial constitutional issue before the parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendments at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

The meeting started at about 12:20pm after Hasina reached there along with some of her party leaders.

Briefing journalists later in the day, Hasina expressed her party’s stance for having the CG system.

Saying that her party is in favour of restricting the CG’s tenure to 90 days, the AL chief said: “The caretaker government will must have to hold elections within this stipulated time.”

If the CG fails to hold elections by 90 days, the previous government will be reinstated to hold the elections, the AL suggested.

The ruling party expressed opinion for keeping the phrase “BISMILLAH-AR-RAHIMAN-AR-RAHIM” above the preamble of the constitution,

Talking on the much-talked-about issue of state religion, Hasina said her party is not against having Islam as state religion.

The AL suggested the constitution makes provision for ensuring equal rights to people of other religions.

Hasina also said her party is against banning religion-based political parties, though it wants to see some restrictions on them.

The debate on the sensitive issues is drawing much attention as components of the AL-led grand alliance were divided over those at the talks with the parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendments on Monday.

A major component of the alliance –Jatiya Party– proposed retaining Islam as state religion, keeping the phrase BISMILLAH-AR-RAHIMAN-AR-RAHIM above the preamble of the constitution and imposing no ban religion-based political parties.

Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Ganotanri Party and National Awami Party strongly opposed the Jatiya Party proposals.

The four parties’ stance on the issues reflected the views of eminent jurists who joined the talks with the special committee on Sunday. The jurists also opposed the existing provision allowing former chief justices to head caretaker governments.

By holding talks with the AL chief, the special committee will wrap up its three-day consultation that began on Sunday.

Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia boycotted the talks on Monday terming the consultation “conspiratorial”.

Source: Daily Star – 27.04.2011