Bangladesh election will take place as scheduled, says PM

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. (Reuters)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Bangladesh election will take place as scheduled, says PM

DHAKA: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday that her government will hold a general election by the end of this year, as scheduled.

“The election will take place on time and the people will exercise their voting rights,” Hasina said.

The prime minister was speaking at a press conference on her return home from an official visit to Italy and the Vatican.

Hasina addressed threats from the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) that it will boycott the election unless its chairperson, Begum Khaleda Zia, is released from prison.

Zia — who was herself prime minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006 — was sentenced to five years in jail for embezzlement on Feb. 8.

Hasina was keen to stress that the government had nothing to do with Zia’s sentence.

“The court has awarded imprisonment to Zia,” she said. “Our government did not dictate the verdict. The case was not even filed by the ruling party. It was filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission during the previous caretaker government.”

Hasina also said that the BNP was free to boycott the upcoming election, as it did the last one.

“Elections are a democratic right of the people,” she said. “If (the BNP doesn’t) participate in the election, we have nothing to do (with that decision). Here, we have a multi-party democracy.”

Zia’s adviser, the former MP Joynal Abedin Faruk, however, believes that such a scenario would be an embarrassment to Hasina and her government both nationally and internationally.

“Our chairperson is in prison now. Right at this moment our target is to set her free through a legal process,” he said, adding: “The BNP will not take part in any election without Begum Zia.”

Professor Ataur Rahman, a political analyst and president of the Bangladesh Political Science Association, believes Hasina and her party will do their utmost to ensure the BNP take part in the election.

“I definitely believe there will be a way out,” he told Arab News. “I believe there will be a positive result. The government will want to bring the BNP into the election process, but after weakening (its) political strength.”

He added that the BNP would want to “keep its existence as a political party,” and would not “waste this chance.”

BNP lawyers said on Monday that they would file a petition for bail for Zia on Tuesday, and they expected it to be granted soon.


Xi says China must lead way in reform of global governance

Updated 52 min 50 sec ago
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Xi says China must lead way in reform of global governance

  • China has sought a greater say in global organizations in line with its growing economic and diplomatic clout
  • Beijing has cast itself a responsible member of the international community

BEIJING: China must lead the way in reforming global governance, the foreign ministry on Saturday cited President Xi Jinping as saying, as Beijing looks to increase its world influence.
China has sought a greater say in global organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and United Nations, in line with its growing economic and diplomatic clout.
Since taking office in late 2012, Xi has taken a more muscular approach, setting up China’s own global bodies like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and launching his landmark Belt and Road project to build a new Silk Road.
Beijing has cast itself a responsible member of the international community, especially as President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from agreements on climate change and Iran, and as Europe wrestles with Brexit and other issues.
China must “uphold the protection of the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, proactively participate in and show the way in reform of the global governance system, creating an even better web of global partnership relationships,” Xi said in comments reported at the end of a two-day high-level Communist Party meeting.
This would help create conditions for building a modern, strong socialist country, the ministry cited him as saying at the meeting attended by officials from the foreign and commerce ministries, the military, the propaganda department and the Chinese embassy in the United States.
While Xi did not provide details, the statement cited him as mentioning the importance of the Belt and Road, and other key diplomatic platforms like his “community of common destiny,” a lofty concept meant to guide China’s relations with the world.
This proposes a “new style” of international relations is proposed that is “win-win” and of “mutual benefit” for all, but many Western nations remain critical of China’s behavior over issues such as the contested waters of the South China Sea.
Xi added that China must strengthen its relations with developing nations, who he described as natural allies, but also learn from all other nations.
He made no direct mention of issues like the trade dispute between China and the United States, North Korea, or self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own and considered China’s most sensitive territorial and diplomatic issue.