|Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson and former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia speaks at a press conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 21, 2013. Begum Khaleda Zia discarded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's all-party interim government proposal and tabled her new offer for polls-time administration. (Xinhua/Shariful Islam)
DHAKA, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's main opposition has rejected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's all-party interim government proposal and tabled a new formula for administration to oversee elections.
"She has blocked the road to credible elections and created the way to deprive the voting rights of the people," Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia told a press briefing in response to Hasina's proposal.
In an apparent move to de-escalate tension between ruling and opposition parties, Hasina on Friday proposed an all-party government be set up to hold general elections in the South Asian country.
Hasina's proposal came as tense political standoff over a non- party caretaker government system culminated with both the ruling and opposition parties calling rallies on October 25 in Dhaka to stage showdown.
Five days ahead of BNP's anti-government rally, Bangladesh police on Oct. 19 imposed an indefinite ban on meetings, processions and rallies in capital Dhaka from Sunday morning, a step the opposition described as an attempt to mute dissenting voices.
Khelda said, "Unfortunately, whatever the Hasina has said in her address to the nation is not aligned to the hopes and aspirations of the people. Because it will not ensure a credible, free, fair national election participated by all parties."
"She (PM) has not clarified who will head the all-party election time government proposed by her, " said Khaleda, also two- time former prime minister.
Khaleda said that the only advice she has sought from the opposition parties is a date for the elections. The nation is frustrated by her statement, she added.
"I still feel that the matter can be solved through discussions. The sooner this is held the better. That is why, in line with the hopes and expressions of the people, I would now like to place on behalf of the BNP and 18-party alliance a specific proposal for consideration by the prime minister."
"In 1996 and 2001 under the non-party and neutral caretaker governments two credible elections were held which were participated by all parties. The advisers of those caretaker governments were praised by all for their neutrality. The Awami League (AL) won one of those elections while BNP the other," she continued.
Khaleda said, "I am proposing that from those 20 advisers the ruling party can propose five names and the opposition party another five. They will be the advisers in the forthcoming election time government."
She further said, "I propose that on the basis of a consensus between the government and the opposition parties a respected citizen of the country can be chosen to be chief advisor of the interim government."
Hasina's ruling AL rejected Khaleda's new formula for interim administration.
In his initial reaction, AL spokesman Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif told reporters that "her (Khaleda) proposal is not acceptable."
But he said there is still opportunity for discussion.
Since June 2011 when Bangladesh Parliament abolished the non- party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP- led 18-party opposition alliance has been pushing for the reinstatement of the provision.
The supreme court in its order mentioned "although the non- party caretaker government is illegal the next 10th and 11th parliamentary elections may be held under the system to avoid chaos."
The caretaker system in which Bangladesh is ruled by a selected government for an interim period (90 days) during transition from one government to another after the completion of the former, was initially introduced in 1990 after military strongman HM Ershad was deposed.
The caretaker government system was institutionalized through the 13th amendment to the constitution in 1996 by then BNP government under pressure from main opposition AL.
The caretaker government, whose main objective is to create an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government, has held elections in 1996, 2001 and 2008, which were recognized as free and fair by local and international observers.