Fakhruddin Ahmed addressed the nation

September 10, 2007
By

[Zafa Noor, USA.]

The regular evening news in Bangladesh on September 9 was interrupted to carry live the speech delivered Chief Advisor (CA) of the Caretaker Government (CTG) of Bangladesh Fakhruddin Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed addressed the nation and revealed some very important decisions made by the CTG. Note that there was no prior announcement of this speech. The program was broadcast by Bangladesh Television (BTV) and simultaneously transmitted by other private channels.

I have to say the style and delivery of a speech by a head of the government had never been better or more eloquent. The well orchestrated speech clearly indicated that lots of thought had been put into preparing the speech, and there has been a deliberate effort made to address some of the allegations of torture and intimidation alleged by international human rights groups and journalists .

I am going to highlight a few of the issues the CA mentioned in his speech. The most anticipated one is obviously the lifting of ban on indoor politics. Before the foot soldiers of the political parties get too excited with their agenda, they should know there have been some restrictions imposed on the indoor politics (thence the term relaxed ban on indoor politics) :

  • a political party may hold meetings of its forums to discuss only its organizational reforms and the Election Commission’s (EC) proposal for electoral reforms
  • a political party may hold the meetings at its central office, hotels, restaurants, auditoriums, and residences of its members, but it will have to inform the Dhaka Metropolitan Police in advance about the meetings.
  • a political party may hold the meetings only in the capital as the ban on indoor politics remains in the rest of the country
  • according to the notification, which was issued amending a provision of the Emergency Power Rules, a maximum of 50 leaders may meet at a time. If the number of attendees at a meeting is to exceed 50, the party will have to take prior permission from the home ministry
  • a political party may also hold its council to bring reforms to itself with prior permission from the home ministry.
  • those who will violate the restrictions will be punished with prison terms of two years to five years and fines.

It is conceivable that after eight months of gag order the political leaders are fully charged to launch their election campaigns and come up with party platforms. But who will lead these campaigns? The top leaders of the two major parties are sitting in special jails, without any possibility of obtaining bail any time soon, leaving their parties in serious rifts. Many of the former political front runners are either detained awaiting formal charges, or absconding justice or charged with petty crimes such as “keeping alcoholic beverages in their home without proper liquor license”. So it played according to the CTG’s plan of political purging in Bangladesh very well.

In his speech, Dr. Ahmed also mentioned that reform proposals of the Election Commission that already received nods from Civil Society and professional groups will soon be discussed with the political parties (or what is left of them) beginning as early as September 12. Considering how little objections we have seen from the civil society group over the last eight months on CTG

4 Responses to Fakhruddin Ahmed addressed the nation

  1. Afraid
    September 10, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Is CA saying that Bangladesh is corruption free now. Yeeehaaa! Zafa, I like the writeup. I think you pointed out the holes quite well. The more I think about this speech, the less I think of it. There has been a de facto lifting of the politics ban for people like Mannan Bhuyian anyway. So does this actually change things much. It may simply facilitate the King’s party to get better organized, especially now that BNP is in disarray.

  2. September 10, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Nice. I just read a similar post in somewhere in… blog. I think readers will love to get in touch with the thread.

    http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/notunerashaiblog/28730475

  3. Someone
    September 10, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    So, now they are searching their exit route! And they are doing it not for other political parties, but for themselves. Now no possibility to include the name of Syed Iskander in any list and all are free from allegation of money laundering. How democratic, corruption-free they are!

  4. Echowallah
    September 11, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Zafa: As neutral citizens who want the best for our country, I think it is important for us to realize that rushing into an election may not be in the interest of the country. You have to understand that election cannot be the sole criterion of democracy. We did have elections for the last 15 years, but had autocratic governments in the guise of democracy that were probably more draconian than even one-party military governments. We know that MPs cannot cross floors in voting. We know there has been no intra-party democracy in both parties. The country’s stability was lost. Rushing to the elections may mean back to square one again.

    We do not need a democracy for the sake of democracy, but a true democracy. For that, we need to create the “right fundamentals” and “prerequisites”, i.e. eliminate black money and muscle-power influence in elections. Whatever the caretaker government is doing is definitely within their constitutional responsibilities of organizing a free, fair and credible polls. If black money, muscle-power and family royalty of both BNP and AL continue, elections won’t be fair. In other words, the government is doing the right thing by cracking down on these ills for a good election.

    I was in Dhaka a few months back and my informal poll showed more than 75% of the people support the reformist government. Amongst non-partisan people, this will be 99%. People want a qualitative change in better governance and progress. Let’s give the reformist government backed by military and civil society a chance and time to make the changes. As for us, as bhodroloks of the era, we have a responsibility to society to make sure our country moves forward to the right path. For this, we need to play our due role in changing the status quo two sides of the same coin BNP-AL politics. Long live Bangladesh!

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