Obaidul Quader said this in reply to a query after a three-hour dialogue between the leaders of Jatiya Oikyafront and Sheikh Hasina-led 14-party alliance at Ganobhaban.
Obaidul Quader, also the Road Transport and Bridges Minister, said the Prime Minister assured the Jatiya Oikyafront leaders of holding a fair, credible and acceptable election.
“The Prime Minister urged the Oikyafront leaders to take part in the election as a level playing field will be created for making the election acceptable,” he said.
Quader said, “Our leader (PM) in her winding-up speech (at the dialogue) clearly requested them to take part in the election saying that she'll prove it right what he said by holding a free and fair election.”
The AL general secretary quoted Sheikh Hasina as saying, “If people give me the mandate, we’ll there in power...there’ll be no rigging and forgery in the election...it’ll be a good, free, fair, credible and acceptable election.”
Over Oikyafront’s demand for army deployment with magistracy power during the election, the Prime Minister informed them that army will be deployed as a striking force and they will be engaged in aid of the local administration, he said.
The Prime Minister said there is no system of army deployment with magistracy power in any democratic country.
“During the meeting, the Oikyafront leaders demanded that the election be held either at the end of February or in March next after the dissolution of parliament and formation of a neutral government with a chief adviser and 10 advisers,” Quader said.
He said the demand of holding polls in the 90 days after the dissolution of parliament is a plea to delay the election, which may invite a recurrence of intruding ill-force like the 1/11 regime.
“We clearly told them we won’t go beyond the Constitution,” he said about the formation of the election-time neutral government.
Assuring that a level-playing field will prevail during the election, the Prime Minister said all the candidates will enjoy equal facilities and no minister and MP will be able to enjoy extra facilities.
“If the Election Commission allows free access of foreign election observers to any booth or polling station, we’ll have no objection,” Quader quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
“Participate in the election, we want to see a free, fair and neutral election, and cooperate with us in this regard,” Sheikh Hasina was quoted as telling the Oikyafront leaders. About the demand for releasing political detainees, Hasina handed over Oikyafront’s list of detainees to the Law Minister asking him to take measures to release them if they are found truly political detainees in investigations.
Talking about announced action programs of Oikyafront, the AL general secretary said rallies and road-march are democratic programs. “But we can’t remain silent if they engage in bomb and arson attacks while observing the programs.”
About the demand for Khaleda Zia’s release from the jail, the Road Transport, and Bridges Minister said they are actually seeking bail for her, not her release.
“The court convicted her...they can fight the legal battle and seek bail from the court. If the court releases her on bail, we’ve no objection,” he said.
Mentioning that the discussion was held in a cordial atmosphere, he said, “No unpleasant thing occurred in this talk. This is also a positive progress.”