Time to move on to more serious events I think, more specifically about the situation in Bangladesh. First, Mash provides some background.
Bangladesh was scheduled to hold national parliamentary elections on January 22, 2007. However, those elections were postponed and a State of Emergency was declared by the President on January 9th. Now Bangladesh faces an uncertain future.
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy with a largely ceremonial President. An unusual aspect of Bangladeshâ€™s political system is that Bangladeshâ€™s elections are held under a non-partisan Caretaker Government.
Late last year, the five year term of the government led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), a center-right party allied with right wing Islamist parties, ended and the prime minister, Khaleda Zia, handed over power to a Caretaker Government. However, the handover did not go smoothly.
As the opposition protests increased, he ordered the army onto the streets, ostensibly to protect the elections. The opposition parties, led by the Awami League, demanded the resignation of the Chief Advisor (President) and the postponement of elections.
Eventually, as the opposition parties boycotted the elections and began a program of nationwide strikes, international pressure began to build up on the President. The United Nations, the European Union, and other international election observers withdrew support for the elections and urged its postponement. Finally, under immense pressure, Iajuddin Ahmed resigned as Chief Advisor on January 9th. However, before he resigned he declared a State of Emergency.
Farhan, for the Drishtipat blog, also has a quick summary with pictures on what has been happening.
PP’s own Golmal Sid has been also covering the state of affairs, worried about the growing influence of power-hungry Islamist parties.
The endemic corruption within the ruling party which has benefited Tareq Zia (35), the son of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, to the tune of billions of (US) dollars that he has siphoned out of the country. Tareq happens to be an unelected party offiicial but wields more power than any other person in Bangladesh. He has single-handedly turned a democracy into a kleptocracy, whilst laughing all the way to the bank (which, at any rate, he controls).
The slow and steady growth of the Islamist political parties under the umbrella of Jamaat e Islami using the channels of democratic norms. Islamist political parties are playing by every rule in the democratic book and they are winning. They are well-organised, well funded and, thanks to their Islamic charity projects, have the most loyal vote banks.
He proposes something a bit more radical – that maybe letting democracy continue in its current, corrupt form will only make the country more susceptible to takeover by hardline religious mullahs. Should rule by the military continue while corruption is sorted out?
Another question that should be asked on microphones, amplified from every rooftop, in every village and town is – do we want democracy to be bludgeoned to death by these inept politicians only to let the Islamists in through the back door?
If Bangladeshis have one collective, national characteristic it is this: wilfull self destruction to prevent the other to get what they think they want. If democracy means the installation of the Islamists into the Dhaka Parliament, wouldnâ€™t it be better to freeze the democratic project for Bangladesh entirely? File under â€œfailedâ€ for long enough at least to flush out the divisive gangrene of the BNP and the AWL?
Mash points out that constitutionally the country is on a cusp:
Bangladesh is in uncharted constitutional waters. According to the Constitution, the elections must be held within 90 days of the previous government leaving power, barring an act of God. The elections have been postponed and there is no constitutional provision to reschedule the elections. The President is now not accountable to the parliament or the people. The State of Emergency, according to the Constitution, will expire in 120 days. However, there is nothing preventing the President from declaring another State of Emergency to extend the current one.
Bangladesh is now at the mercy of one unelected President, one unconstitutionally appointed Chief Advisor, and 5 other unelected Advisors. Bangladesh is also now at the mercy of the military. Bangladesh has a long and brutal history of military coups and takeovers. It now stands at the mercy of the military once again. What has occurred in Bangladesh is nothing short of a constitutional coup dâ€™Ã©tat.
Rezwanul also has constant coverage.
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Filed in: Bangladesh,Current affairs