Press Trust of india

Bangladesh opposition demands CEC's resignation

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Dhaka, Dec 26 : Bangladesh's main opposition alliance has demanded the resignation of the chief election commissioner, questioning his neutrality, days ahead of the December 30 general elections, a senior official has said.

Members of Bangladesh's opposition BNP-NUF alliance on Tuesday walked out of an Election Commission meeting, alleging that the behaviour of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nurul Huda was "inappropriate" and he was not taking their views into consideration during the talks.

The opposition delegation led by National Unity Front (NUF) convenor and eminent jurist Kamal Hossain met Huda to discuss the alleged arrests of the coalition's supporters in police crackdown ahead of the general elections this week.

The NUF has demanded Huda's resignation accusing him of bias ahead of the polls, a senior BNP leader said last evening.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they demanded the CEC's resignation as they fear a free and fair election cannot be expected under Huda's leadership.

"It is impossible to get neutral behaviour let alone expecting a free, fair and neutral election under him," he told reporters.

Alamgir said they have urged Bangladesh's figurehead President Abdul Hamid to appoint a neutral person as the commission's chief.

The senior BNP said his party wanted to contest the polls and expected the commission's attitude to change.

He said Huda paid no heed to the alliance leaders as they noted instances of attacks since the start of campaigning on December 10.

At least six people have been killed and several hundred injured in election-related violence since December 10. Both opposition and the Auling Awami League blame each other for the attacks.

The media reports suggest that most attacks were carried out by the ruling party activists who were often backed by the police.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar, a member of the four-men commission, has asked the police and other members of the law enforcement agencies not to "humiliate your uniform" while discharging their duties.

The alliance decided to meet the CEC as it was debarred from holding its wrapping up election rally in the capital.

The NUF leaders accused the police of playing a "biased role" to hinder opposition candidates' poll campaign on the ground.

The opposition allege that police have arrested some 10,500 of their activists in a crackdown ahead of elections with an intention to create a "climate of fear".

The police, however, said no one has been arrested without specific charge and warrant.

BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed called the charges "fictitious", noting that they were framed to favour the ruling party, which leads a grand alliance and aims to win a third consecutive term.

The BNP is in disarray as its chairperson and ex-premier Khaleda Zia is serving a five-year prison term in two graft charges while her son and acting BNP chief Tarique Rahman is staying in London apparently to evade a life term imprisonment.

A Dhaka court earlier this year sentenced Rahman to life imprisonment for masterminding a 2004 grenade attack that killed 24 Awami League leaders and activists, while then opposition leader Hasina narrowly escaped the assault.

Prime Minister Hasina and Zia have been political foes since the introduction of democracy in 1991.

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