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  • » 08/21/2013, 00.00


    More violence feared as Bangladesh teeters on the brink of a political crisis

    Sumon Corraya

    New round of elections at year’s end. For analysts and opposition, the climate is too tense, a transitional government is needed to prepare the country to vote. But the prime minister abolished it in 2011. The minority parties threaten to boycott vote.

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - A country "on the verge of a serious political crisis" that threatens to bring "fresh social instability and violence". This is how many analysts describe Bangladesh, as the nation draws ever closer to the general election. Blame for the current situation is being laid at the door of Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister, leader of the Awami League and Muibur daughter of Sheikh Rahman, father of the country and leader of the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

    In view of the upcoming elections, scheduled for the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, Hasina has stated she will not restore the caretaker government. It is an interim government - whose members do not belong to any party and are not in the running for the vote - which is given a 90 day mandate to organize elections. In 2011, however, the Prime Minister decided to abolish this body, with the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

    For some, however, the situation is too tense to go to a vote without a non-partisan government that can ensure transparency and fairness. Moreover, what is happening recalls the events of 2007/2008, when a state of emergency was imposed and power given to an interim government backed by the army. In fact, for nearly two years, Bangladesh remained in deadlock, in which civil and political rights were suspended.

    The signs are all there: for months petty crime has increased, as well as vandalism. The verdicts of international war tribunals have further fuelled the climate of tension created by the Awami League to "give justice" to the victims of the liberation war (1971), in fact it is seen as a tool to decimate the leadership of the Islamic party (Jamaat -e-Islam). In turn Islamists have taken advantage of the lack of transparency of these trials to launch numerous hartal (strikes), which have all degenerated into riots and violence.

    Faced with this situation, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP, leading opposition party) would like the Awami take a step back and restore the caretaker government. Otherwise, ago Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, BNP spokesman warned two days, "there will be no election, because no opposition will take part." Other minority parties have announced they will not participate in the vote if the situation were to remain as is. Hasina's mandate expires next October.

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    See also

    21/12/2006 BANGLADESH
    Country at a standstill a month from the elections
    Another general strike paralyses Dhaka. Opposition Awami League continues demanding reforms and threatening boycott in January 22, 2007, elections. Crisis was long in the making.

    08/01/2007 BANGLADESH
    Army calls for greater power ahead of elections to cope with ongoing political crisis
    It is the second day of opposition protest against caretaker government. Country is paralysed as tens of people are injured and arrested in Dhaka. President Iajuddin is unwilling to give in as the military seek extensive powers and the United Nations puts on the breaks.

    05/06/2008 BANGLADESH
    Government "fears" behind mass arrests in Bangladesh
    The sweeping anti-crime operation, with almost 12,000 arrests, could be concealing the interim government's intention to "eliminate" political adversaries and discourage new street protests. Popular discontent over inflation is growing.

    26/04/2007 BANGLADESH
    Dhaka has second thoughts: "no restrictions” for the two ex leaders
    The interim government denies that it intends to force Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina into exile. The former may stay in the country but must face corruption charges; the latter has permission to re enter the country, but must answers to multiple murder charges.

    12/06/2008 BANGLADESH
    Ex premier Hasina released from jail, heads for USA
    The leader of the Awami League today left the country for medical care in the United States. Before her departure she requested the interim government release other party members currently being held in prison and the removal of the state of emergency.

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