Election should be according to international standards as opined by US Ambassador26 May 2022
– Mainul Hosein :
We hope that after the US Ambassador Mr Peter Haas's forthright statement on the World Press Freedom Day that the next parliamentary election in Bangladesh is to be held according to international standards. He has gone to the crux of the election crisis in Bangladesh. Being in power the previous election was openly robbed with the help of police and bribing the opposition. It is common knowledge.
The outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Mr. KM Nurul Huda though had to act as rubber stamp yet at his retirement admitted he did not get sufficient cooperation from the government officials. It did not matter that the Constitution demanded all executive authorities to assist the Election Commission in the discharge of its functions. The built-in election rigging system has been forced upon our people.
Mr Peter Haas has made it clear saying that "the United States' policy on Bangladesh elections -- or anywhere for that matter - is that the people of the country should have the ability to choose their own government through free and fair elections conducted in accordance with international standards."
Unfortunately, since the birth of Bangladesh the conspiracy to eliminate democracy began actively as leftist politics.
Our people's mandate in the election held under Chief Martial Law Administrator, Gen Yahia Khan, in 1970 was to obtain people's mandate on six-point based autonomy wherein also democracy featured a basic demand.
Thereafter in the people's involvement in the liberation war organised by the elected Awami League government in exile in India the main basis propounded was democracy and human rights. The leftists had no influence among our people for election politics and got no seats in the election of 1970.
As Bangladesh came into existence through a 'war' the leftist parties were insisting for their inclusion in the government though not elected. Their backdoor manipulations succeeded and Bangabandhu agreed to form a revolutionary one-party government abandoning all the democratic rights in line with communist countries.
The revolutionary rule was ended by revolt of a section of the army. However tragic the culmination of the revolutionary government was, returning to democracy was obstructed in every way possible. The attack on the press freedom and independence of the judiciary is an ongoing process in a calculated manner so that democracy and election politics do not have a chance of revival. The government must be feared.
During the present government the Constitution was amended taking advantage of a single majority judgement of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on the wrong premise that the unelected election time neutral caretaker government was unconstitutional and not acceptable being undemocratic. That was in 2011.
Thereafter the government has been holding farcical elections while remaining in power in full force without even dissolving the parliament.
The government ignores public grievances against stolen elections claiming that elections are held in accordance with the Constitution. The fact is the Constitution was suitably changed for not abiding by the international standards for elections but for making peaceful change of government through election impossible. The new method of holding parliamentary elections is not to be found in any parliamentary democracy.
The international standard as practised in England is that the sitting government resigns and the queen asks the immediate past Prime Minister to continue as the election time caretaker government with a small cabinet. His is a caretaker government chosen by the queen and not an election time elected government. The opposition accepts the Prime Minister to head the election time government because they have faith that the Prime Minister will not try to steal the elections.
Further, dissolving of parliament is the precondition for holding elections for the new parliament. After dissolution of the parliament there cannot be an elected government. Under the amended Constitution the need for dissolving the parliament was discarded. This unique election system suited the government to cut at the foundation of democracy. The elections have become a game of terror and collective corruption.
In other words, election under the present system is a violation of international standards followed in the parliamentary system of government in England, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. The Election Commission is a sitting duck having no ability to ensure free and fair election.
The need to have a non-party caretaker government during election time was once insisted upon by Awami League then in the opposition and forced to make non-party caretaker government part of the Constitution. It turned turtle when in power to bury the system of impartial non-party caretaker government.
Let the parliament be dissolved for holding the next parliamentary elections as is the international standard for a free election as available elsewhere. If the seats of the parliament are not vacant then where is the need for elections? The contradiction as explained reveals the colourable judgement relied upon.
It is understandable that in planning the demise of democracy in Bangladesh Awami League has not been alone.
After the deaths and destruction being perpetrated in Ukraine by Russia every day, our people are most anxious to stave off authoritarianism in progress by restoring democracy.
To have anti-people election is to have anti-people repressive government all the way. The inhumanity of crooks and corruption is going at every level of public life obviously under protection of the government.
The terror of the government has made all of us cowards. The recent determination of America and the other Western democracies to save democracy as against autocracy beckons the hope and strength where democracies are under real threat. We are already deep in such a crisis.
The government every day loudly claims how popular it is. So there is no reason for the government to face the challenge of free elections in compliance with international standards for free and fair elections. Towards that end we would like to see the government not using state agencies to hinder free association and free debate.
The government not being elected the next election should be held as soon as possible to save the country from explosion of public anger against the mess, disorder and corruption making our people's lives insecure and suffer in terrible hardship.