Yunus backs demands for caretaker govt to hold Bangla polls
From Anisur Rahman
Dhaka, Aug 22 (PTI) Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus today backed growing opposition demands to amend Bangladesh''s electoral laws to bring back the system of holding polls under a non-party caretaker government.
The 73-year-old economist, who pioneered the concept of micro-finance but was forced to step down as head of Grameen Bank after a dispute with the Awami League government, said, "There must be an election and that is under a non-party neutral government.
"There is no scope for a peaceful election without a non-party neutral government (for election oversight)," he told a joint press briefing with Bangladesh Krishak-Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddiqui here.
Yunus''s remarks on the poll system were in line with demands of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its rightwing allies.
Without naming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with whom he does not have good relations, Yunus said, "Politics has brought the country under dark clouds of conflict. The people of the nation will not forgive the person who is responsible for this situation."
Hasina said two days ago that she would not "budge an inch" on the existing constitutional provision of holding the general election under an incumbent government.
The opposition claims polls under the Awami League administration would not be credible. Bangladesh''s next election is expected to be held between October and January next year.
The dispute between Yunus and the government apparently resurfaced last month when the premier''s office warned his Yunus Centre of legal action for a statement condemning a reported comment by Hasina about him.
Media reports and analysts earlier said his row with the government might prompt Yunus to reappear as a political figure. He previously tried his luck in politics in 2007 he when floated Nagorik Shakti party. But he abandoned the move three months after announcing his formal entry in politics.
Yunus was forced to step down as Managing Director of Grameen Bank in May 2011, three decades after he founded it as the pioneering micro-lending agency, following his dispute with the government and a court order.