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No way to restore caretaker govt system, PM tells VoA

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the possibility of reviving the caretaker government system stating that the constitution has been amended in line with a High Court verdict.

"People have their right to vote. Whoever is elected by the people will form the government. There is no way to go back to it [caretaker government system]," she said in an interview with the Bangla service of Voice of America (VoA).

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The interview was aired today.

The PM, now on a visit to the US, responded to a number of questions on US visa sanctions, human rights, Khaleda Zia's treatment abroad, caretaker government, the constitution, and other issues.

Asked about the possibility of taking an initiative for amending the constitution and forming a caretaker government or holding talks with the opposition alliance, Hasina said, "Election is people's right. When a state of emergency was declared in 2007, the High Court delivered a verdict that an unelected government would never come to power and power will be handed over to an elected government... The constitution was amended after the verdict.

"Now, how can we cancel the High Court verdict or amend the constitution? And why will we do that? We had a lot of bitter experiences. In the history of our country, we have seen martial law, military dictatorship, and farcical elections under them, or under caretaker government."

The PM also questioned the logic behind the US visa curbs on Bangladeshis.

"We have ensured a proper environment for elections through waging movements and struggles. People are conscious about their right to franchise. We've done this. Now I don't see any logic behind this sudden sanction.

"Today they [US] are imposing sanctions, more sanctions may be imposed in future… it is up to them. We have ensured all the rights of our people -- their voting rights, fundamental rights and right to live," she said.

Hasina said there is no problem if the US prevents people from entering the country as there are enough jobs in Bangladesh now.

About allegations of human rights violations, she said law enforcers, be they members of Rab or police, are tried in Bangladesh according to the law of the land for any wrongdoing.

"If they talk about human rights or voting rights, we, the Awami League, have fought for the right to vote.... We have taken all necessary measures to ensure a fair and free election," she said.

Mentioning that BNP once opposed the caretaker government system, Hasina said, "When we protested against vote rigging by BNP, then BNP leader [Khaleda Zia] had said that no one is neutral except those who are mad and children.

"The constitution was amended based on the High Court verdict. They used to protest against it. As they are now raising the same demand, there is no guarantee of what they will do in future," she said.

Moreover, the caretaker government system was abolished because of the BNP, said Hasina, adding that they wanted to form a government of their choice by raising the judges' retirement age, preparing fake voter lists, and committing a lot of terrible crimes.