ROME, Jan 22 (IPS) – The parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh on 7 January, 2024, has created a lot controversy within the nation, terming it an “election of the Awami League (AL) authorities, for the AL authorities and by the AL authorities”, by many. Internationally, China and India have congratulated the federal government for victory and group of a good election. However, a number of western nations have termed it as unsatisfactory. Nonetheless, regardless of the varied views, everybody agrees that it was not participatory elections. Voter end up was considerably low and it was boycotted by the principle opposition Bangladesh Nationwide Occasion (BNP).
Previous to the election, the USA and a number of other western nations indicated that failure to carry truthful and free election may have penalties. Because of this, Bangladesh’s coverage analysts are involved and discussing the possible implications of the election on the economic system and particularly the garment trade.
Whereas worldwide push again are reputable considerations, what’s extra worrisome is that Bangladesh could also be unwittingly sleep strolling to dictatorship below one get together rule. A number of commentators are suggesting that Sheikh Hasina is turning into an authoritarian ruler from being a champion of democracy and the AL is projecting itself as the only real guarantor of independence, sovereignty and secularism. Everybody else is on the market to show it right into a scorching mattress of Islamic extremism. Such rationales alluding to ethical proper to rule are good elements for sleepwalking into dictatorship.
The one-party dictatorships are typically extra steady and perverse and the elections legitimizes one get together dictatorship by presenting a picture of democracy.
Historical past teaches us that one get together rule or dictatorship goes in opposition to the essential basis of Bengali values. Nonetheless, profitable strikes to cease it could possibly solely be launched by understanding why and the way it’s rising.
Democracy in Bangladesh
Bangladesh initiated non-party caretaker authorities (CGT) system for working elections as per demand of the AL in 1991. By all accounts the 1991 election was truthful and the CGT labored satisfactorily to carry common elections additionally in 1996 and 2001. Curiously, in 1991 the BNP gained and in 1996 the AL gained and in 2001 the BNP gained once more.
What went flawed thereafter ? The system ran into difficulties in 2006 as a result of BNP’s refusal to comply with the foundations governing the CTG . This led to political disaster of 2006-2008 and introduced the navy into energy. Nonetheless, a good election was lastly held in 2008 and the AL achieved overwhelming victory. Since then, the AL began getting emboldened and in 2011 it abolished the CTG system. Consequently, BNP launched motion to revive the CTG and began refusing to take part in elections until it’s carried out. The AL is adamantly refusing to reintroduce CTG, saying it’s unconstitutional.
Subsequently, it might appear that the core problem dealing with our democratic system is two-fold: the way to persuade AL to introduce the CTG? or the way to persuade BNP to take part in elections below the ruling authorities? These challenges could seem simply resolvable by way of dialogue. Sadly, the 2 events are mired in deep animosity. For AL, the founding father of BNP is linked to the merciless homicide of the founding father of Bangladesh and his household and the present chief of BNP is accused of grasp minding the grenade assault on a AL rally on 21 August 2004, killing 24 individuals and injuring about 200. For the BNP, it has zero belief in AL and considers ditching of the present get together chief, Begum Khaleda Zia – with the title Zia, as its existential risk.
Can the civil society or the worldwide group mediate an answer ? Sadly, civil society is fragmented alongside get together strains and partly misplaced its neutrality through the 2006-2008 disaster, when some parts stepped into politics. The worldwide group can also be divided between the East and the West and a overwhelming majority within the nation believes that their name for democracy is motivated by geo-political pursuits.
Who will blink first ?
Judging from the previous, neither is probably going to provide in below the current management. Therefore, to save lots of democracy in Bangladesh, everybody involved wants to come back out of hybernation and construct a nationwide consensus. BNP management should reply for the accusations and face the implications. Its stalwart leaders ought to make sure that, as an alternative of slavish subordination. The civil society ought to shade political shade and affect of the ‘funders’, and the worldwide group ought to settle for native dynamics and realities. If all involved fail to place the nation first it is not going to bode properly for democracy in Bangladesh.
The Bengali individuals will certainly rise in opposition to one get together rule. Success of rise up might be formed by the management it fosters. Any management tainted by legal accusations and historic misdeeds will fail to acquire broad-based help. Folks could give the ‘advantage of doubt’ to civil crimes, however could not for legal crimes, even when portrayed as ‘politically motivated’. Partisan help alone can not deliver down a one get together dictatorship. A broad-based nationwide motion is important. It can not occur below management tainted by legal accusations. For a democratic Bangladesh, the nation wants an opposition led by people who find themselves not and can’t be tainted by legal accusations and provide AL the ethical excessive floor by default.
The creator is a former UN official who was Chief of Coverage Help Department for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations (FAO).
IPS UN Bureau
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