Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Japan relaxes arms export ban

Japan plans to relax its ban on arms exports so it can jointly develop and produce such arms with other nations, the government's top spokesman said Tuesday.

Osamu Fujimura said in a statement relaxation of the country's longstanding weapons export ban would enable Japan to provide equipment for humanitarian purposes and keep up with the current global environment on weapons production, Kyodo News reported.

The statement, however, noted the government would uphold the principle of Japan being a pacifist nation and avoid international conflicts.

Fujimura's statement was issued after the Security Council of Japan, chaired by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, decided to relax the rules, Kyodo reported.

Fujimura told reporters the government would be "cautious" when dealing with cases that do not fall under its current exceptions.

Under those exceptions, Japan cannot sell weapons to communist states, countries subject to U.N. embargoes or countries involved in international conflicts.

Under the new rules, Japan can participate in joint efforts with friendly nations such as the United States, the report said. Currently, the United States and Europe conduct joint development or production of high-tech weapons such as fighters to cut costs and improve quality.

CPB, LDP want caretaker restoration

Communist Party of Bangladesh and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) demanded restoration of the caretaker government system on Tuesday, saying it is a must for credible parliamentary elections.

The two political parties made the recommendation when their delegations met President Zillur Rahman at his official residence Bangabhaban to place their suggestions on formation of a new Election Commission.

During their nearly one-hour talks starting from around 11:00am, a nine-member delegation of LDP heade
d by its Chairman Col (retd) Oli Ahmed said merely a reconstituted EC will not be able to ensure a fair election without the reinstatement of the CG system.

The delegation suggested formation of a 'strong legal framework' for constituting an Election Commission instead of the traditional one.

As per the constitution, the president appoints the chief election commissioner and other commissions in consultation with the prime minister.

The party also informed the president about the government's ongoing crackdown on opposition activists and demanded immediate end of the repression.

When the president asked the LDP for the names of proposed CEC and other commissioners, Oli Ahmed said they want a decision on the CG first. 

A 12-member delegation of the CPB led by its president, Manjurul Ahsan Khan, also held nearly an hour-long meeting from 12:10pm with the president and stressed the need for restoration of the CG system to make the next general election credible. 

They also suggested the government enact a law in line with the constitution to appoint the CEC and other commissioners.

When the president asked them to suggest names for the post of the CEC and other commissioners, the CPB chief said they gave a proposal to him to pick those people for the posts who will be credible to all political parties. 

In reply, Zillur Rahman termed their proposals logical and requested them to send their suggestions in a written form. 

On Monday, the president held talks with two separate delegations of Workers Party and Jatiya Party-JP (JP-Manju) and told them that he will ask the government to enact a law in line with the constitution that will require formation of a "search committee" to find appropriate persons from among whom the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners will be appointed.

While holding talks with Workers Party, a component of AL-led grand alliance, and JP-Manju at Bangabhaban, the president however said enacting the proposed law is a time consuming matter, meeting sources said.

During the talks, Zillur Rahman urged the leaders of the two parties to submit names of "honest, patriotic, competent and democratic minded" persons to him, who could be appointed as the CEC and other election commissioners.

On Thursday the president held the first round of talks with HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party, and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal. He sought names from them also.

On expiry of the tenure of the present EC in early February, the president, on advice of the prime minister, will have to appoint a chief election commissioner and other election commissioners to form the new EC.

Against such a backdrop, the president started the talks with political parties on December 22, seeking their opinion on the matter.