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Ashraful still AL acting Secy: Zillur: Senior leaders boycott Jalil

Awami League joint general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam is still working as the acting general secretary of the party, the party’s acting president Zillur Rahman told Thursday.

Earlier in the day Jalil claimed he had officially resumed work as Awami League general secretary, demanding authorities unconditionally release party chief Sheikh Hasina and hold general elections before upazila polls.

Jalil had met with Zillur after being released on bail on Wednesday.

Zillur had told reporters at the time that, in line with the party constitution, after being released on bail Jalil was the Awami League general secretary.

When Zillur’s attention was drawn to this, he said: “Our party’s general secretary is Mr Abdul Jalil. But the charge of the general secretary has technically not yet been handed over to him.”

“Syed Ashraful Islam is still discharging the responsibilities of the party general secretary. He is the acting general secretary,” said Zillur.

The AL acting chief said party policy markers would hold a meeting “in four or five days”, following which the post would formally be handed over to Jalil.

All of the senior leaders of Awami League were conspicuous by their absence as just-released party general secretary Abdul Jalil yesterday placed floral wreaths on the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to formally resume his responsibility.

None of the AL Presidium members and party’s acting president Zillur Rahman and acting general secretary Ashraful Islam was with him-which has never ever been seen on such an occasion of homage paying to their late patriarch.

The absence of the entire party hierarchy from his political repatriation function after release from detention signifies that he is going to get a rough ride.

Abdul Jalil, who was released on bail Wednesday, standing in front of the Bangabandhu portrait, declared that with showing respects to the party founder he formally started discharging the duty of party general secretary.

In the absence of Jalil after he was arrested on charge of corruption and then sent to Singapore for treatment, Syed Ashraful Islam acted as general secretary. But on the court premises Wednesday, just after he was enlarged on bail, Jalil himself via media declared: “I have again taken the office of general secretary.”

He, in this context, cited the automation clause in party constitution that needs no formal charge handover.

Jalil, accompanied by AL office secretary Abdul Mannan Khan, city AL acting general secretary Advocate Kamrul Islam, Advocate Sahara Khatun and some 100 party activists, went to the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and placed the wreaths at 10:30am.

Talking to reporters Abdul Jalil asked the government for permanently and unconditionally releasing the party president, Sheikh Hasina, now abroad for treatment, and holding the long-awaited parliamentary polls before the “controversial” upazila elections.

“With showing respects to the Father of the Nation, I started performing the duty of AL general secretary. I will again sacrifice myself for restoring democracy in Bangladesh,” he said.

Jalil was the main man in leading fierce anti-government protests until the immediate-past BNP-led coalition ended its tenure into a political crisis that eventually imperiled all of the politicians under the current state of emergency coupled with anti-graft purge.

The AL leader returned home on August 31 after six months’ treatment in Singapore after his release on parole.

The reporters asked him whether the AL would arrange any party council to bring change in the party’s constitution in line with the Election Commission-prescribed registration process under the reforms in the interim period.

Jalil said if all in the party feel it necessary, then obviously there would be party council for needed changes.

He was allowed to go abroad on health grounds after his temporary release on parole on March 2 in a case filed on charge of amassing illegal wealth.

During the talks with the journalists, Jalil vowed to work hard to ensure the victory of his party in the next general election under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

“Sheikh Hasina is the only person who has that power to give the golden days back to the country’s people,” he said in an apparent change of tone he had reportedly struck while in custody in favor of party reform.

He promised to escalate their movement for freeing Sheikh Hasina.

Meanwhile, sources in the party said the absence of the AL presidium members and other key leaders might be the result of their and party chief Sheikh Hasina’s “dissatisfaction” over the sudden announcement of resuming the office of general secretary.

“He (Jalil) even did not listen to our Party Chief Sheikh Hasina’s suggestion for taking rest for some more days,” an AL presidium member told UNB, preferring anonymity.

Asked why the senior leaders did not join Jalil in placing floral wreathes at Bangabandhu’s portrait, the influential presidium member said he was not informed about such programme.

News reports published in the national dailies Thursday said Sheikh Hasina, after the declaration of Jalil on Wednesday, phoned acting president Zillur Rahman and wanted to know on what grounds Jalil himself could declare him as the general secretary of the party.

Hasina also reportedly said acting General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam would continue with his current job.

Added on - September 11, 2008 | Filed under Latest, Politics