Plea for change made
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday said the 2015 elections will not be democratic without constitutional changes. “The constitution must be amended,” the Nobel laureate said as she met European Community President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels. “If the constitution is not amended, the 2015 election cannot be free or fair.” Parliamentary polls will be held in 2015, with the new parliament then choosing a president and Aung San Suu Kyi has said she wants to run for the presidency. The constitution, crafted under the former military regime, blocks her from becoming president as it excludes anyone whose spouses or children are foreign nationals from holding the post. Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British nationals through their father, academic Michael Aris. Aung San Suu Kyi met European leaders over the weekend before heading to Luxembourg to pick up the EU’s main human rights prize that she won 23 years ago. At a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg tomorrow, she will finally receive the Sakharov prize she won in 1990 at the height of the military crackdown.
Bootleg liquor kills 10 more
Another 10 people have died in hospitals after drinking toxic bootleg liquor in the north, police said yesterday, raising the death toll to 42 in the past three days. Some 40 people are being treated in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh state, District Magistrate Neena Sharma said. Police arrested 32 people for illegally brewing and selling the toxic drink to the villagers, who were celebrating the Hindu “Dussehra” festival in Azamgarh District last week, Sharma said yesterday. Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common because the poor cannot afford licensed liquor. Illicit liquor is often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.
Three named for ministers
Local media says President Hassan Rouhani has named three candidates for ministerial posts to replace nominees rejected by the conservative-dominated parliament. In August, lawmakers attacked his proposed Cabinet for its members’ Western educations, their alleged ties to the opposition and their supposed lack of experience. However, in the end parliament rejected only three out of his 18 nominees. State TV said yesterday that the president named Reza Faraji Dana to be science, research and technology minister, Reza Salehi Amiri to fill the sports and youth portfolio and Ali Asghar Fani to head the education ministry.
All rallies banned in Dhaka
Police on Saturday banned all rallies in the capital, Dhaka, fearing violence after the opposition called for “armed” protests to force elections under a caretaker government. The ban comes after an official from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) urged supporters to stage non-stop protests starting on Friday armed with machetes and knives. The BNP and its Islamists allies have set the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a Thursday deadline to agree to their demand to hold upcoming parliamentary elections under a neutral caretaker government. Hasina on Friday proposed an all-party interim government in an effort to break the deadlock over the polls. The BNP has yet to respond to the proposal, but the party has long threatened to boycott any elections held under a government or interim administration led by Hasina.