Next polls will be held by Jan 25, says PM

She requests UN chief to send poll observers
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated that general election will be held in the country by January 25 and urged the people to vote her party to a second term in government for the sake of democracy and continuity. “We will hold general election by January 25 next year under the existing Constitution,” the Prime Minister told a reception given in her honour by expatriate Bangladeshis at the Hilton Hotel on the sideline of the UNGA session.
Earlier on Saturday She also expressed similar hope during her talks with UN secretary general and urged him to send an election monitoring team.
“I’ve requested him (Ban Ki-moon) to send a UN delegation to observe the next general election,” Hasina said while addressing a press briefing at Bangladesh’s permanent mission at the UN in New York on Saturday afternoon.
The Prime Minister said the UN Secretary General has highly praised the role of Bangladesh in women’ s empowerment towards attaining MDGs as well as the country’s performance in UN peacekeeping missions.
In this regard, the Prime Minister said that many other countries in the world have failed to achieve the successes in attaining the MDGs that Bangladesh did.
Hasina thanked the UN Secretary General for appointing a battalion of Bangladeshi peacekeepers to a new peacekeeping mission of the United Nations in Mali.
The Prime Minister also called upon Ban Ki-moon to appoint the Bangladeshi peacekeepers to the higher posts of the UN.
Hasina also said during her Saturday’s exclusive meeting with her Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh they discussed matters on how to speedily resolve pending issues with the two next door neighbours.
Hasina said they at the meeting discussed various issues relating to bilateral interests and also the unresolved issues of the two countries to settle those quickly.
“Our (Bangladesh-India) relationship is fine and we want to continue that,” she told journalists.
Diplomatic sources said the two leaders discussed, among other issues, the much-hyped land boundary agreement, Teesta water sharing treaty and power purchase.
After the delegation-level talks on the sidelines of the 68th UNGA, Hasina and Manmohan had a 10-minute one-to-one meeting, aiming to solve the unsettled issues and maintain the existing excellent relationships between the two neighbouring countries.
Earlier, the Prime Minister also held a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak.
At the reception Hasina cautioned the Bangladeshis against the misdeeds during the previous BNP-Jamaat rule and said that the opposition was continuing to mislead the people against her grand alliance government ahead of coming general election.
She urged the expatriate to work closely with their families, friends and others back at home to vote again for her government and help it to return to power again for the sake of continuing democracy and development activities she had initiated. She also reminded that the ongoing war crimes trials would be frustrated and stalled if the BNP-Jamaat forces came to power again in Bangladesh.
The function was also addressed among others by senior Awami League leaders Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, grand alliance partner leaders Rashed Khan Menon and Mainuddin Ahmed Khan Badal.
Earlier, speaking at a press conference at the Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York, Prime Minister Hasina said that she does not have any problem to have tea with her arch rival Khaleda Zia though the opposition leader, her sons and cabinet members had tried to kill her through grenade attacks on August 21, 2004.
“I like tea and I’ve no problem to have tea with Khaleda Zia… we’ve always been flexible for the welfare of the country’s people although the opposition leader, her sons and cabinet members tried to kill me,” she said.
Replying to a question whether she would be a bit more flexible ahead of the next general election, Hasina said: “Is there anyone in Bangladesh who is more flexible than me?”
She urged BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia to part with the war criminals and to stand in favour of their trial and asked the opposition leader to come to parliament and discuss how she wants the next general election to take place.
“Please come (Khaleda Zia) to parliament and discuss issues. We’ve proved that free, fair and neutral elections are possible, and we want credible polls. Make it clear how you want the election to be held?” she said.
Alleging that the BNP chairperson had created a crisis in the country to save the war criminals, Hasina said, “If the opposition leader leaves her association with the war criminals and stands in favour of the trial, then there would be no crisis in the country.”
“I’ll urge her to join parliament and want her to clearly say what she wants,” the premier said.
The premier also criticised the opposition leader for celebrating August 15 as her birthday although on this day back in 1975 Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members.
“The day she (Khaleda) started celebrating August 15 as her birthday from that day I came to know she doesn’t want me alive,” Hasina said listing various attempts to kill her during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government, including the grenade attack on a rally on August 21, 2004, leaving 22 AL leaders killed and many more injured. “I’m ready to make any kind of sacrifice for the sake of the country’s people.”
Asked whether she sees any crisis before the next election, the Prime Minister replied in the negative and criticised the so-called civil society members, including former bureaucrats, for foreseeing a crisis.
“There has been a set of people who had always tried to create crisis so that their importance increases…if there’s any abnormal situation then their importance gets enhanced,” she said adding, “You’re maligning Awami League and me, and by doing that those who will take over power will be the protectors of the war

-With The Independent input

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