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Politicians playing ping-pong with democracy

Politicians playing

ping-pong with democracy

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Most of the newspapers in Bangladesh are focusing on the resignation of Chief Election Commissioner Justice M.A. Aziz, saying his resignation would immediately resolve the political crisis in Bangladesh. But, possibly their expectation is too high if not too wild. When the 14-Party Alliance forced their demand for not making former Judge K.M. Hassan as the Chief of the Caretaker Government and went on street almost with a kind of militant protest killing several people, Dhaka press was very optimistic that, if Hassan would step back, there would be a total resolution to the crisis. In reality, it was not. Awami League led 14-Party Coalition had many more ‘Cards’ in their wallet. Once Hassan issue was gone, they immediately brought Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz issue. And, if this will be resolved, certainly 14-Party Alliance will bring their third demand. This time possibly they will press forward the demand for a fresh voter list and introduction of voter ID cards. Let us simply estimate the time required for preparing a new voter list and ID cards for more than 75 million voters. According to experts, it might take at least 6-9 months. Although in reality it might even more time. So, there is no chance of any election in Bangladesh, at least in January. It is for sure!

So, if there is no election in January 2007, should there be any constitutional problem in Bangladesh? According to constitutional experts, if the election is impossible within 90-days frame work of the Caretaker government, the tenure of the CG might be extended for another three months. But, again, if the election would not take place during that extended time, there should be definitely a serious constitutional crisis in Bangladesh. No one wants to predict the facts after this extended period. Former General Mainul Islam Chowdhury said, “I do not even want to think about that, it is too dangerous situation in that case”.

There is now a million dollar question in front of the entire nation in Bangladesh. Should country’s democracy finally survive when political parties have stated playing ping-pong with that? Former Secretary and editor of The Bangladesh Today, M. Asafuddowlah said in a television show that there is no chance of any resolution of the present political crises as the gap between the confronting political opponents are too big. He said, army should be immediately called to resolve the crisis to save country’s economic back bone.

Meanwhile, with the third round of country-wide blockade program of Awami League led 14-Party alliances, country’s export trade, especially readymade garment sector has already entered into a very critical situation, which business leaders term as extremely crucial. President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Fazlul Huq told reporters a week back that, due to blockade and suspension of works at country’s main sea port, exporters are forced to ship their export consignments by air, which actually is causing huge financial loss to them. He said, if this situation will continue, country’s textile and readymade garment sector will soon collapse. The leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) yesterday said they will hold a sit-in in the Bangabhaban area tomorrow if President and Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed fails to break the current political stand-off by today.

The BGMEA decision came after the advisers to the caretaker government on Monday night said they are hopeful about finding a solution to the crisis with the next 48 hours.

Earlier on Sunday, the garment factory owners issued a 12-hour ultimatum to the president to break the deadlock; otherwise, they said, they would stage a sit-in on the premises of the presidential residence Monday.

However, later they had decided to have the decision approved by the association members and accordingly, they called an emergency board meeting at the BGMEA office yesterday. At the meeting, the members overwhelmingly endorsed the sit-in program, said sources.

"We will have to go for a sit-in in front of the Bangabhaban if President Iajuddin fails to work out a solution by today," Tipu Munshi, the immediate past president of BGMEA, told the press.

He said, "The majority view at the meeting was that we hold the demonstration."

Addressing a press conference after the board meeting, former BGMEA president Annisul Huq said, "We must organize the program as the so-called constitutional and democratic politics of the political parties has been ruining our industry."

BGMEA President SM Fazlul Haque, however, did not make any comment on the planned sit-in.

He said, "We will meet the president and chief adviser on Thursday and then decide on what to do."

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by Salahuddin Ahmed, acting secretary of BGMEA, said the board meeting has decided to submit a memorandum to the chief adviser, advisers and the governor of the Bangladesh Bank, depicting how badly the garment sector has been affected due to the ongoing political unrest.

The statement said the apparel factory owners and manufacturers hope that the current crisis will come to an end within the deadline spelt out by the interim government. They will announce more programs if things do not improve by that time.

And, now there is a final word from Sheikh Hasina, leader of Bangladesh Awami League. She said, if the Chief of the Caretaker government will fail to implement 11 point demand of her 14-Party Alliance, the country will experience civil coup. It is learnt from sources that, 13 other partners of the alliance, mostly leftist parties failed to get even a single seat in any past election in Bangladesh, as they do not have credibility to the people, nor people of Bangladesh supports leftist politics. So, these elements are forcing Awami League towards a situation to either seize power through civil coup or to foil the next general election, so that their importance would remain in public.

Posted on 22 Nov 2006 by Root

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