Awami League threatens to boycott polls

Published December 28, 2006

DHAKA, Dec 27: The former military dictator and chairman of his own faction of the Jatiya Party (JP), Hussain Mohammad Ershad, has been disqualified from contesting the forthcoming elections by retuning officers of all the five constituencies for which he had filed nomination papers.

Subsequently, the Awami League, the leading party of the grand alliance of which Ershad’s JP is a partner, said the move was a conspiracy of the caretaker government to stop the combine from winning the elections.

The AL also warned that it would go for agitation again, or might even boycott the polls if efforts to keep Ershad away from the elections are not stopped.

However, Ershad’s nomination papers for Rangpur-3, Lalmonirhat-3, Dhaka-5, Habiganj-3 and Sylhet-3 were rejected following scrutiny by the returning officers on Wednesday on grounds that he had been convicted in a criminal case.

The Constitution of Bangladesh stipulates that a person shall not be eligible to be a member of parliament if convicted for at least two years in a case of criminal offence involving moral turpitude.

The Bangladesh High Court on December 14 convicted Ershad for two years of imprisonment in the Japanese boat purchase scam case. Earlier in 1995, the Bureau of Anti-corruption accused Ershad of misappropriating Tk330 million in buying 520 boats and 10 water-purification machines for flood relief operation.

Ershad went to move the Supreme Court for overturning the high court verdict. But a vacation bench of the Appellate Division asked Ershad, on December 19, to surrender to the lower court before making any appeal to overturn the high court’s judgment.

The Awami League on Wednesday warned that it would go for agitation again, or might even boycott the polls if the caretaker government ‘conspired’ to keep H. M. Ershad and other candidates of the combine, away from the election process.

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