No to religion-based parties

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] Awami League and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu) Monday decided to place identical proposals during their dialogs with the Election Commission calling for a bar on party registration and poll participation by any religion-based political party.

Leaders of both the organizations at an inter-party meeting also denounced the Chief Election Commissioner, ATM Shamsul Huda, for his remarks regarding registration of religion based political parties. Replying to query that whether the EC would allow or refuse to register religion-based parties, Huda Sunday said the issues were not under the jurisdiction of the commission. “This is a political problem and it has to be resolved politically. Election Commission has nothing to do with it,” CEC said at meeting in Chittagong.

Criticizing the remarks, AL and JSD leaders opined that the draft electoral law reform, proposed and circulated by the commission, already suggested a bar on registration of religion-based parties. The meeting decided that they would demand for keeping the Jamaat-e-Islami and other religion-based and militant organizations out of the elections, meeting sources said.

The meting held at the Dhaka residence of AL acting president, Zillur Rahman, also agreed to place identical proposals before the commission based on the 31-point reform proposals of the AL-led alliance.

“Remarks by the CEC surprised us,” AL presidium member Tofail Ahmed told newsmen after the meeting, adding that the EC’s draft on the electoral reform said parties with anti-constitutional spirit and discriminatory attitude on religious issues would not be allowed for registration. He said when the EC’s draft and the pro-liberation political parties were opposing registration of religion-based political parties, such remarks by the CEC could not be accepted.

“AL and other components of the 14-party alliance agreed to oppose any move of allowing the religion-based and militant political parties in the elections,’ Tofail, also the acting coordinator of the combine said. He said although the AL-led alliance would agree with most of the EC’s proposals, it has objections on some proposals and would oppose them during their dialogs with the commission.

“The Election Commission should take preparations to hold a fair and credible elections and it is the responsibility of the commission to make the election free from the religion-based parties,” said JSD president, Hasanul Haq Inu. He said that the EC should uphold the provisions it proposed in rule 10 of the draft Election Commission (Registration of Political Party) rules that proposed a bar against party registration by any religion-based political party.

AL and JSD leaders also expressed their willingness to cooperate with the commission and urged it not to take any “unacceptable” decision. The leaders also appreciated the Chief Adviser and the Chief Election Commissioner for their assurances in holding the national elections by December 2008. They also demanded that the government should lift the ban on political activities completely across the country immediately.

AL leaders Mukul Bose, Akhtaruzzaman, Sultan Mansur Ahmad, Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Rahmat Ali, Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin and JSD leaders Moinuddin Khan Badal, Syed Zafar Sajjad, Sharif Nurul Ambia, Shirin Akhter were present in the meeting among others.

The AL is scheduled to sit with the Samyabadi Dal Wednesday. It will also sit with the other components by turns.

One Response to “No to religion-based parties”

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    In a secular democracy, a bar on religion-based parties that have establishment of Sharia in their party-mandates is only logical. This can be a fascinating issue to discuss in a political science class in order to show how secularism can rescue us all from this mess.

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