B'deshi lawmakers quit govt to form new party
BANGLADESH: Thirteen Bangladeshi lawmakers including two ministers
have defected from the government to launch a new party to challenge
almost two decades of rule by the country's two main parties in January
The Liberal Democratic Party launched Thursday, headed by former
president Badruddoza Chowdhury and Oli Ahmed, a former minister with the
ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Joint secretary general Firoz M. Hasan said the 13 one-time BNP
stalwarts wanted to challenge the country's two main parties, the BNP
and the opposition Awami League, which have alternated in power since
Following the announcement, police in the northwestern district of
Naogaon said they were investigating a suspicious fire at the home of
one of the departing BNP lawmakers, former junior minister for women and
children Alamgir Kabir.
A building under construction at the lawmaker's constituency home was
set alight, destroying furniture and a nearby parked car, said police
sub inspector Akram Hossen.
The launch of the new party came as a deadlock between the government
and opposition over election reforms threatened to jeopardise January's
The main opposition Awami League and its 13 leftist allies have
threatened to boycott the polls unless the BNP replaces the proposed
interim administration chief and top election officials they accuse of
Chowdhury served as president until June 2002, when lawmakers from
the BNP, which leads Bangladesh's four-party coalition government,
passed a vote of no confidence in him after he put off a visit to the
grave of the BNP founder, assassinated president Ziaur Rahman.
A 2004 bid by Chowdhury to launch a "third way" in Bangladesh
politics ended in mob violence.
Meanwhile Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia will address the
nation to mark the end of her government's five-year term.
An interim administration that will oversee January's national vote
was expected to take over from Zia's coalition government, an official
from the country's Election Commission said.
The main opposition Awami League announced that it would "paralyse"
the country with protests starting Saturday over the government's
failure to back down on the appointment of a former party official as
head of the caretaker government.
Dhaka, Friday, AFP