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154 Elected in Bangladesh Before Any Votes Are Cast

Written by পান্থ রহমান রেজা (Pantha) · Translated by Rezwan On 4 January 2014 @ 10:56 am | 1 Comment

In Bangla, Bangladesh, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Elections, English, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Protest, South Asia, War & Conflict, Weblog

Without a single vote being cast, Bangladesh's ruling Awami League and allies have won more than half of the seats in parliament because an opposition boycott has left so many candidates without challengers.

Among the 39 registered political parties only around 12 [1] are participating in the general election [2] on January 5, 2014. As a consequence, 154 out of 300 seats have been automatically decided [3].

An 18 party alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party [4] (BNP) are boycotting the election, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resign and allow a neutral caretaker government to oversee the balloting, as was previously called for by the constitution [5].

For months, opposition supporters have engaged in violent protests across the country [6] to stress their demands. This has caused huge and costly damages and hampered the day-to-day lives of citizens.

Three persons, including a woman, have been burned as miscreants lobbed a petrol bomb onto a bus at Paribagh in Dhaka, on the third day of the Opposition's nonstop blockade of the city protesting the election. Image by Khurshed Alam Rinku. Copyright Demotix (3/1/2014) [7]

Three persons, including a woman, have been burned as miscreants lobbed a petrol bomb onto a bus at Paribagh in Dhaka, on the third day of the Opposition's nonstop blockade of the city protesting the election. Image by Khurshed Alam Rinku. Copyright Demotix (3/1/2014)

Sajeeb Wajed Joy, the son of Prime Minister, admits on Facebook [8] [bn] that the opposition boycott puts the validity of the election in question, but says the election must be held to uphold the constitution (the constitution requires a parliamentary election be held before January 24):

[...] সাংবিধানিক শুন্যতা তৈরি যেন না হয় তাতে, নিখুঁত না হলেও এই নির্বাচনের কোন বিকল্প নাই। আমাদের মহান সংবিধানকে সমুন্নত রাখার দায়িত্ব এখন সম্পূর্ণ আপনাদের উপর। আপনি যদি অসাংবিধানিক উপায়ে ক্ষমতা দখলের কোন সুযোগ দিতে না চান তবে, ভোটকেন্দ্রে যান এবং ভোট দিন।

[..] We have to ensure that a constitutional vacuum does not arise, we have no option other than this election even it will not be perfect. The onus to uphold the constitution is on us. If you do not want others to gain power through unconstitutional means then please go to your nearest polling station and please do vote.

However Kathakata [9] blog thinks [bn] that the government's actions discourage voters:

[...] এই উপসংহারে পৌঁছালে কি ভুল হবে যে ভোটাধিকারের প্রশ্নটি, জনগণের দ্বারা নির্বাচিত হওয়ার প্রশ্নটি এখন আর মূল্য বহন করে না? ইতিমধ্যে জানা ফলাফলের মাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশের ভোটাররা যেহেতু জানেন, তাঁদের ভোটের মূল্য নেই, সে ক্ষেত্রে নির্বাচনের দিনে ভোটকেন্দ্রে যাওয়ার জন্য বিরোধী দল নয়, সরকারই আসলে ভোটারদের অনুৎসাহী করতে সক্ষম হয়েছে। তাতে করে বিরোধীদের ডাকা ‘বর্জন’ বা ‘প্রতিরোধের’ চেয়ে আরও বেশি কারণ তৈরি হয়েছে ভোটারদের ভোট না দেওয়ার।

[..] Would it be wrong to conclude that the question of exercising our right to vote, an election by the people, means nothing now? As many voters in the country know from the already declared results, their votes have no value. In this case the government, not the boycotting opposition, has discouraged voters from going to polling stations on the day of the election. So this has given more cause not to cast votes than the opposition call to “ignore” or “occupy”.

Blogger and activist Rasel Pervez (who is currently on bail after being detained for his writing [10]) quotes [bn] minister Obaidul Quader [11] and says the election is not democratic:

[...] আজকে যেমন ওবায়দুল কাদের বললেন সংবাদ সম্মেলনে ৫ই জানুয়ারীর নির্বাচনটা হয়ে যাওয়ার পর তারা সকল দলের অংশগ্রহনে, স্বচ্ছ নিরপেক্ষ এবং গণতান্ত্রিক নির্বাচনের জন্যে সংলাপ করবেন। তিনিও জানেন ৫ই জানুয়ারীর নির্বাচন গণতান্ত্রিক হচ্ছে না।

[...] Just as Obaidul Quader said in a press conference, after the election of January 5 they will hold a negotiation to arrange an all-party, free and fair and democratic election. He himself knows that the January 5 election will not be democratic.

On Twitter, Mahbubul Karim has named the 10th national parliament election a “selection”:

Its not election, but a shameful selection http://t.co/em0sLJDSIz [12]

Police fire water cannon, tear shell to stopped a procession by lawyers supporting the opposition BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami near the Supreme Court in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by  Zakir Hossain Chowdhury. Copyright Demotix (29/12/2013) [15]

Police fire water cannon, tear shell to stopped a procession by lawyers supporting the opposition BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami near the Supreme Court in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury. Copyright Demotix (29/12/2013)

Blogger Shaman Shattik [16] writes [bn] on Aamar Bandhu that he wants Awami League in power again to see the completion of the ongoing trial of war criminals.

কথা উঠেছে, সবদলের অংশগ্রহণে নির্বাচন না হওয়ায় গণতন্ত্রের গতি ব্যাহত হবে ৫ই জানুয়ারীর একতরফা নির্বাচনে। কথাটার মধ্যে যতটুকু সত্য লুকিয়ে আছে, তার চেয়ে বেশি সত্য বোধ হয় জনগণের কাছেই সুবিধৃত হয়ে আছে। সরকারগুলোর জনগণের নিজস্ব মৌলিক সমস্যাগুলো সমাধানের সম্পূর্ণ আন্তরিকতার পরিবর্তে দূর্নীতি থেকে অধিকতর দুর্নীতির দিকে আরো ৫ বছরের জন্য যাত্রা করাটা নিশ্চিত করবে। কেননা, এই দুই দলই দুর্নীতিতে “কেউ কারে নাহি ছাড়ে সমানে সমান।” সেক্ষেত্রে ৫ই জানুয়ারির নির্বাচনে এই মূহুর্তে পুনরায় নির্বাচিত হতে যাওয়া আওয়ামী সরকারকে আমি ততদিন পর্যন্ত ক্ষমতায় দেখতে চাই, যতদিনে বেশিরভাগ চিহ্নিত যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচারের রায় সম্পূর্ণভাবে কার্যকর হয়ে যাবে।

The talk of the town is that democracy will be hindered as all parties are not participating in the January 5, 2014 election. As much as there is truth in that statement, a higher truth is exposed to the citizens. Instead of being frank to solve the basic problems of the citizens, these governments are eager to extend their terms/grab power for the next five years. Because both the major parties are neck-and-neck when it comes to corruption and abuse of power. In this case I actually want to see the inevitable winners of the January 5, 2014 election, the Awami League, be in power as long as it takes to complete the ongoing trial of war criminals [17].

The Prime Minister says [18] [bn] the opposition party boycott is to blame for the uncontested winners in more than half of all constituencies.

Also read: Why the Opposition in Boycotting the Election in Bangladesh [5]


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/04/154-elected-before-any-votes-are-cast-in-bangladesh/

URLs in this post:

[1] only around 12: http://www.dw.de/%E0%A7%AB%E0%A7%A8-%E0%A6%B6%E0%A6%A4%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%82%E0%A6%B6-%E0%A6%AD%E0%A7%8B%E0%A6%9F%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B0%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%AD%E0%A7%8B%E0%A6%9F-%E0%A6%A6%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%A8%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%85%E0%A6%A7%E0%A6%BF%E0%A6%95%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%A8%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%87/a-17336627

[2] general election: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladeshi_general_election,_2014

[3] 154 out of 300 seats have been automatically decided: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579268253160039122

[4] Bangladesh Nationalist Party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Nationalist_Party

[5] previously called for by the constitution: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/04/why-the-opposition-is-boycotting-the-election-in-bangladesh/

[6] violent protests across the country: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/04/how-many-burning-bodies-will-satisfy-them-political-violence-in-bangladesh/

[7] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/3602358/three-persons-burnt-arsonist-attacks-bus-dhaka

[8] admits on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sajeeb.a.wazed/posts/391902324279530

[9] Kathakata: http://kathakata.com/archives/1084

[10] being detained for his writing: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/04/05/protests-against-the-arrest-of-bloggers-on-alleged-blasphemy-charges/

[11] quotes [bn] minister Obaidul Quader: https://www.facebook.com/rasel.pervez/posts/10151915480873335

[12] http://t.co/em0sLJDSIz: http://t.co/em0sLJDSIz

[13] @sharethis: https://twitter.com/ShareThis

[14] December 24, 2013: https://twitter.com/Safi_ctg/statuses/415459586833793024

[15] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/3577242/police-used-water-cannons-supreme-court-dhaka

[16] Shaman Shattik: http://www.amrabondhu.com/shaman-shattik/6980

[17] trial of war criminals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Crimes_Tribunal_%28Bangladesh%29

[18] says: http://www.shokalerkhabor.com/details_news.php?id=146859&&%20page_id=%205

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