Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has referred to the failure of past neutral caretaker government to renew her resolve to never ‘walk that way’ to safeguard democracy.
She said Bangladesh’s civil society had endorsed military dictators who hijacked democracy several times after the 1975 political changeover and warned all of similar signs now.
“Why must I listen to those who can’t even stage a simple election? … Democracy will not flourish if we listen to them. The country will not move forward.”
She was speaking at a programme organised to commemorate the 40th anniversary of independence architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman winning the Joliot-Curie Medal of Peace at Osmani Memorial Auditorium on Thursday.
Hasina mentioned that people were entitled to democracy. “Military dictators had snatched away that right and privilege several times after 1975. Some educated and scholarly members of the civil society had provided them support.”
“We are witnessing such symptoms in the country now,” she added.
The general elections will take place under the current government since the 15th Amendment to the constitution removed the provision to hold elections under a non-partisan caretaker government.
The opposition BNP has been strongly opposing this move, saying it will not contest in the polls if the provision for neutral election-time government is not returned to ensure a free and credible balloting.
Foreign diplomats and businesses have been piling pressure on the two main political parties to sit for a dialogue to end the political impasse.
Hasina has already extended talks offer to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and agreed to an all-party polls-time cabinet. But BNP has been adamant on its demand for a caretaker government saying it will not sit for talks unless its demand is fulfilled.
Hasina asked people to compare the first two years of the previous army-backed caretaker government– which was originally authorised to remain in power for three months– with the two years of her government’s tenure.
“We had to overcome a lot of challenges. The army-endorsed caretaker government did not face these troubles. There were no politics at that time.”
“Why did it fail? What did it do for the people?” asked the Prime Minister.
She emphasised that the government must be headed by politicians. “We know how to keep democracy functioning… We want the country to be in peace by ending conflicts.”
Bangladesh did not achieve anything during the time of the 2007-8 ‘unconstitutional government’, she added.
The nation witnessed one of the most ‘remarkable events’ in its history in 2007, when a military-backed caretaker government took over power with then President Iajuddin Ahmed proclaiming a state of emergency amid political standoff between the Awami League and the BNP.
Source: Bd news24