08/21/2013, 00.00
BANGLADESH

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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