Bowing to mounting pressure, Premier Sheikh Hasina today proposed the formation of an all-party interim government to oversee Bangladesh's next general election amidst uncertainty over the poll process due to differences between the ruling Awami League and opposition parties. "My proposal to the opposition party – we can constitute an all-party government during the election time," she said during a televised address to the nation. I am requesting the opposition leader (Khaleda Zia) to respond to my proposal. (I hope) she will honour my request and give value to our good wishes," Hasina said in her 22-minute speech.
Hasina's call came against the backdrop of a political impasse over the system for conducting the upcoming polls. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has asked its activists and supporters to rally in the capital on October 25 to mount pressure on the government to accept its demand for polls under a non-party caretaker government.
In her address, Hasina urged the BNP to propose names of its parliamentarians for the cabinet of the election-time interim government. "Our aim is to hold a free, fair and peaceful election. We want to hold the next general election with all political parties represented in the parliament," she said. "Hence, I propose the opposition party give names of parliament members for the interim government." Zia has said the BNP will not take part in the polls unless the now scrapped system of caretaker government is restored through a constitutional amendment. She said her party believes elections under the incumbent government will not be fair.
The Awami League, on the other hand, said the elections must be held under the incumbent government in line with the newly amended constitution. Experts said the premier's proposal today was unlikely to require any fresh amendment to the constitution. No immediate reaction was available from the BNP to the premier's proposal, which came a week ahead of the scheduled rally of the main opposition party.
The constitution states that the election must be held within 90 days of the end of the tenure of the parliament. The term of the current parliament will end on October 25 and polls must be held by January 25, 2014.