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Bangladesh elections: Ruling Sheikh Hasina, opposition unveil polls manifestos

Sheikh Hasina's 21-point charter promised to put Bangladesh on a "highway to development".

Published: 18th December 2018 05:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2018 06:50 PM   |  A+A-

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (File | PTI)

By PTI

DHAKA: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League and jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia's BNP unveiled their manifestos ahead of the crucial December 30 polls on Tuesday, as the election commission ordered the deployment of the forces across Bangladesh to maintain law and order.

Unveiling the ruling Awami League's election manifesto, Prime Minister Hasina asked voters to take a lenient view for any mistakes committed by her government during its two consecutive terms since 2009.

The 21-point charter promised to put Bangladesh on a "highway to development".

READ | Bangladesh deploys thousands of paramilitary amid deadly election campaign

"We do not want a politics of division, violence, arson, obstruction or unrest. We want a democratic environment for a free and fair election. We want to ensure the participation of all to reach a national consensus," the 80-page manifesto read.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir released the manifesto in the of absence Zia, who is serving a jail term for embezzlement of funds, and her "fugitive" elder son and acting party chief Tarique Rahman.

The BNP manifesto promised to limit the term to two for an elected person to hold the office of the prime minister.

The manifesto promised to scrap "all black laws" including the Digital Security Act, Official Secrets Act and Special Power Acts to facilitate freedom of speech and expression.

"A single vote of yours will revitalise the life of our leader (Zia)," Alamgir said, adding that their votes would restore the image of Rahman, now staying in London.

Rahman was given life imprisonment for masterminding a grenade attack on an Awami League rally in 2005 in which 24 people were killed and several others, including the then opposition leader and now Prime Minister Hasina, injured.

Zia, 73, who is serving a 10-year jail sentence on corruption charges, has been barred from contesting the polls.

The developments came as a single-judge High Court bench virtually sealed scopes for Zia to contest the polls being a convict rejecting her final plea to overturn the election commission decision to disqualify for the polls.

According to the election commission officials, around 100 million people are eligible to cast their votes in the general elections.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Election Commission on Tuesday ordered the deployment of the paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) throughout the country with "immediate effect" to maintain law and order.

"A total of 1,016 platoons of BGB troops have been deployed across Bangladesh to control the law and order situation," a commission spokesman said.

On Monday, Bangladesh's main opposition alliance unveiled its poll manifesto, promising to safeguard the opinion and rights of people if it was voted to power.

The National Unity Front (NUF), a political alliance of opposition parties including Zia's BNP, promised to ensure "peoples' ownership".

"When the people no longer have control of the government, it is taken over by vested interests and various domestic and foreign groups," NUF convenor and eminent jurist Kamal Hossain said.

The NUF, in line with the constitutional principle, would not only ensure peoples' ownership over the government but also the stake of defeated parties in the governance process, he said.

Though the BNP is part of the NUF alliance, it released its manifesto separately.

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