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Ruling AL, oppn BNP unveil polls manifestos in Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League and jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s BNP unveiled their manifestos ahead of the crucial December 30 polls on Tuesday, as the election commission ordered the deployment of the forces across Bangladesh to maintain law and order.

Unveiling the ruling Awami League’s election manifesto, Prime Minister Hasina asked voters to take a lenient view for any mistakes committed by her government during its two consecutive terms since 2009.

The 21-point charter promised to put Bangladesh on a “highway to development”.

“We do not want a politics of division, violence, arson, obstruction or unrest. We want a democratic environment for a free and fair election. We want to ensure the participation of all to reach a national consensus,” the 80-page manifesto read.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir released the manifesto in the of absence Zia, who is serving a jail term for embezzlement of funds, and her “fugitive” elder son and acting party chief Tarique Rahman.

The BNP manifesto promised to limit the term to two for an elected person to hold the office of the Prime Minister.

The manifesto promised to scrap “all black laws” including the Digital Security Act, Official Secrets Act and Special Power Acts to facilitate freedom of speech and expression.

Rahman was given life imprisonment for masterminding a grenade attack on an Awami League rally in 2005 in which 24 people were killed and several others, including the then opposition leader and now Prime Minister Hasina, injured.

Zia, 73, who is serving a 10-year jail sentence on corruption charges, has been barred from contesting the polls.

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