Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Bangladesh opposition calls shutdown, demands to keep caretaker system

SALEEM SAMAD

THE OPPOSITION called for countrywide dawn to dusk strike on Sunday to protest the government’s decision to discard the non-partisan interim government system to oversee the general election.

The world’s only country, Bangladesh, where the caretaker government system is embodied in the state constitution to ensure a free, fair, neutral and acceptable general election in 90 days.

Mainstream opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party’s acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the shutdown at a press conference on Wednesday. Rejecting the government’s decision, the fiery leader declared the strike schedule to undo the decision, writes wire service United News of Bangladesh.

The opposition threatened the government not to participate in upcoming general elections, scheduled in end 2013, if the provision was scrapped.

It is the fifth general strike since the current Awami League-led government came to power early Jan. 2009.

He said only four weeks ago the prime minister herself spoke in favor of caretaker government during her meeting with the parliamentary special committee to study constitutional amendment.

The supreme court on May 10 repealed the 13th Amendment to the constitution that introduced the controversial caretaker government in 1996. The government argues that there is no room for the neutral government to hold the election, while the section should be deleted immediately.

Opposition fears that the government would manipulate administrative power, which would thwart a free, fair and acceptable election.

In 1996, Shiekh Hasina led Awami League and her alliance launched week-long bloody political riot, which forced the government to accept the concept of caretaker government.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

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