Bangladesh in Turmoil

Bangladesh is going through turbulent times as the row over an interim caretaker government chief persists who will lead the country towards the upcoming parliament election in January 2007.

This unique caretaker government (CTG) system adopted in Bangladesh constitution worked in past three elections. However this time the opposition parties led by Awami League (AL) and its fourteen party alliances were protesting that the designate Chief Justice KM Hasan not to be allowed as Chief of CTG because his past involvement with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and because of the government's deliberate attempts to keep him in this position by
extending the retirement age of the judges. They claimed that Hasan was too close the government and have accused the outgoing administration of trying to rig elections. Drishtipat group blog has details on the crisis.

On October 27, the Bangladesh government comprising of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the four party alliance ended their five year tenure. In recent times the ruling coaltion was battered by constant opposition protests crippling the country, failure to curb price hike and inflation and mishandling the power and energy sector as demand increased supply, and some dissidents within the party. Former president Badruddoza Chowdhury and a former dissident of BNP and 24 dissident active BNP members led by Oli Ahmed MP formed a new political party called Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) couple of days ago. They have accused the government of carrying out widespread corruption, alleged absence of democracy in the party and supporting the Islamic fundamentalists.

Bangladesh is passing through anxious moments as the events develop. On Saturday 28th Thousands of protesters blocked roads into the capital of Dhaka Sunday as they awaited the word on who would take his place.

Violence erupted in many places across the country as the oppositions protest continued. The protesters had stabs and oars in their hand as prescribed by their party leaders and were put in use as their rage went on when they were attacked by police or the ruling coalition supporters. Bangladesh was in turmoil as 18 persons reported killed and more than 2,000 injured in total. Shahidul News has some first hand pictures of the clashes.

Drishtipat Group blog and The Third World View have updates of the crisis and are providing backgrounds and discussions of ordinary Bangladeshis. Drishtipat urges every Bangladeshi not to be emotional with the current proceedings and try to be sane in tackling the issues.

The events took a dramatic turn on 28th of December as Justice KM Hasan refused to take oath “for greater interest of the country”. This has prompted President Iajuddin to call BNP and AL to talks. Then in a surprised move the Presdent Iajudding Ahmed offered himself to be the chief adviser after AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil and his BNP counterpart Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan could not agree on any former judges to head the caretaker government.

Sheikh Hasina, chief of Awami League rejected the offer outright and urged the president to follow the constitution.

Dhaka anxiously waited today to know what decision the President takes. Nazim Farhan Chowdhury of conversation with the optimist analyzes who may be next.

The general Bangladeshis are disgusted with the political acrimony of the two major players who have divided the country rather going forward in unison.

Blog-A-Rythm proposes that BNP and AL leaders should be awarded Nobel acrimony award for turning the peaceful country into chaos in just 14 hours.

In a latest development President Iajuddin Ahmed took oath as the Caretaker government chief at 20:00 hours Bangladesh time despite strong objections by the Awami League and allies.

Rumi of Drishtipat comments:

“Here is how democracy dies. Here is how BNP turns into an autocratic party. Good Bye democracy (whatever we had).”

People are contemplating that Army may soon take control to calm the situation. It need not be a coup but the president may declare state of emergency. Earlier it was predicted that Army is reluctant to get into the mess.

In the event of an emergency or martial law, the first casualty is information. The media will be shut down and internet blocked. Somewhere in, a software company and owner of the wap-internet based site Awaaj has taken a revolutionary step. Now people of Bangladesh can send news to the world via sms using their mobile phone. Drishtipat Blog has details to send information to the world if the internet is down.

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