Badruddoza says: ‘I resigned to avert constitutional crisis’

By Staff Reporter
Published January 6th 2004 in The New Nation

Former President Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury yesterday said, he had resigned from the office of the President to avert a constitutional crisis and on moral consideration since more than 150 out of 300 members of Parliament opted for it.

"I could have continued in office ignoring their threat (of impeachment), but I did not want to push the nation into a constitutional crisis," he said while exchanging opinion with senior lawyers of the Supreme Court at the Bar Association auditorium.

The BNP in a very short time of my resignation realised that they had committed a 'blunder' through removing me. Meanwhile, it was clear that the country was not running well, the former President said.

He said he would form a political party to carry forward his programmes if the people and civil society groups wanted him to do so. "Even a political party will be needed for the proper utilization of the contributions of the civil society. But I cannot say whether it will be formed tomorrow or a day after " he said, adding that, at present, he was still exchanging views with the civil society groups.

Prof Chowdhury, who is campaigning to establish an alternative political force in the country, met the lawyers as part of his programme to exchange views with different professional groups to mobilise support for floating a united platform of the civil society groups.

Presided over by the Supreme Court Bar President Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud the function was also addressed by the Gano Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain, vice-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocate Subrata Chowdhury and the Secretary Advocate Mahbub Ali.

Prof Chowdhury first delivered an introductory speech outlining his position on the current situation of the country and his immediate programmes. Then it was followed by a question-answer session. A number of lawyers including Dr Kamal Hossain posed questions to him.
Stressing the need for integration of the expertise of the civil society groups in the governance and their participation in social reforms, Professor Chowdhury said, good people should come forward now to mould the society. "The governance of the country would be better if good people and specialists were taken from the civil society," the former President said.

In this context, he cited the governance by three caretaker governments since 1990 and called upon the civil society members to come forward and play their role in this "critical time-the country was passing through".
Referring to the comments made by some foreigners he said, in Bangladesh civil society is very strong and it can play due role in the present situation to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

Reiterating his proposed framework for political reforms, which he thinks can present good government Prof Chowdhury said, besides 200 directly elected members, another 100 people could be brought in to Parliament on the basis of proportional representation.

"Even a small political party that would get one per cent of votes would have representation in Parliament," he said. He, however, said the proportional representation could be changed in phases, going for 150 directly elected and as many selected members. In the last phase, he said 100 would be directly elected and 200 selected from the civil society and specialist groups.

About how to choose good and specialist person, he said before elections the contesting parties would have to name the persons, who would be selected on proportional basis for Parliament.

To make Parliament function effectively first of all neutrality of the Speaker should have to be ensured, he said.

"For this the Speaker should have to resign from his party first and then there must be a guarantee that he would be reelected uncontested in the next general election," he added.

Prof Chowdhury identified the lack of effective bureaucracy and police force as the main problems, the country is facing. And…corruption and politicisation destroyed their effectiveness.

He said, he believes in constitutional process, parliamentary democracy and multi-party system. He asserted that he had no weakness to any undemocratic process to acquire power. "There is no Trojan horse in my sleeves," he said.

He regretted that the two top leaders of the country (Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina) do not see eye to eye and do not also talk to each other. They stick to their egos even if every thing goes to hell.

"This can not at all be a political culture and nor acceptable. We want to establish a political culture which must be decent and fair," he said. We will address specific problems with specific solutions, he added.
"This is an alternative-the only way to save the country," he said and asserted that the country was in need of a clean leadership to free the nation from terrorism and corruption, which have already pushed the country into an alarming situation.

To a question, the former President said, hartal should not be used any more. "We do not believe in politics of hartals and siege as well as, the use of terrorism and money in politics," he said.

Referring to debates on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman, Prof Chowdhury said, "There should not any debate about the contributions of these two great leaders. They must be given due recognition. Debates undermines them and divide the nation."

Replaying to a question on Bangladeshi and Bangali nationalism, he said, we do not want to create controversy on the issue. He, however, recommend the use of the expression "Bangladesher Bangali".
Dr Kamal Hossain, the other proponent of an alternative political force, stressed the need for national consensus to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

"There should not be any division in the people since there was no division during the War of Liberation and in the Constitution of the country," he said.

Emphasising the need for stopping the use of black money and muscle power in the elections, Dr Kamal said, law should be enacted to prevent these curses.

Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud expressed concern over the state of governance, law and order and corruption.

"In no way we want any unconstitutional government. We believe in parliamentary democracy and want continuity of constitutional rule," he said.

Barrister Rokon said, "Judiciary is in crisis. A vested quarter is trying to politicalise the judiciary through political appointment of judges."
In this context, the Bar President criticized the alleged superceding of seniority even in the Appellate Division.

Former BNP Minister Barrister Rafiqul Islam Miah, Advocate Saifuddin Chowdhury, Advocate Salimullah, Advocate Tajul Islam, Advocate Sirajul Islam, Barrister Tania Amir and Advocate Abdul Awal, among others, put forward questions to the former President.