Manipulated polls to disrupt dev gains

Manipulated polls to disrupt dev gains

Prothom Alo English Desk | Dec 26, 2018

Opposition coalition leader Kamal Hossain is seen addressing a press conference after his motorcade was allegedly attacked in Dhaka on 14 December - Photo: The DiplomatBangladesh is heading towards failure to hold a credible election, forecasts a Tokyo-based online news magazine.

Such failure, it adds, will undermine rule of law, increase political uncertainty and put at risk the country’s development gains in recent times.

“On the other hand, a fair election may end authoritarian rule,” the magazine says referring to growing concerns over manipulation of key institutions, such as the election commission and the bureaucracy.

In an article titled ‘Bangladesh’s Deadly Election’, it mentioned the Asian country has allegedly moved away from democracy over the past decade, despite steady improvements in economic indicators.

Terming pre-election Dhaka volatile, the magazine pointed out that opposition leaders have come under attack almost on a daily basis.

The article, published on 24 December, added that as many as 21,000 opposition leaders and activists were arrested since the announcement of the election schedule.

There are allegations of rampant violation of electoral codes, the article mentioned.

“Instead of ensuring a transparent election, human rights groups have accused the election commission of doing the opposite,” it said.

Referring to restrictions on election day media coverage, the article quoted critics as arguing that these are “part of a coordinated strategy from the incumbent government to weaken the conditions for a free and fair election”.

“The pursuit of fear and intimidation as a pre-election strategy renders unfair advantage to the incumbent. Disruptions to the opposition’s electoral campaign undermines the prospect of a competitive election,” read the article.

“It also adversely affects the primary target: voter turnout.”

The article observed that voters in South Asia display a strong anti-incumbency attitude.

“The current spell of public attacks and use of brute force to silence dissenting voices may only reinforce such anti-incumbency feelings and significantly lower the chance of re-election for the Awami League.”

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