August 24, 2008

Amendment of RPO act

The Bangladesh government has recently amended the Representation of the People Order Act, 1972 to regulate the activities of political parties. According to this act government officials who resigned or retired after November 2005 would not be able to contest the elections. There are allegations that some bureaucrats had exploited their positions to lay the groundwork for their political careers. So this act will deter them.

The other features of this law are mandatory registration for political parties, candidates should not be defaulters of utility bills, close down chapters abroad. It also bars those convicted of war crime by a national or international court or tribunal. A candidate shall allowed to contest in maximum three constituencies instead of five.

But it was not well received by the political parties. Moreover, The Police department has created a new intelligence wing to gather information in advance about activities of political parties which angered them. The Awami League and BNP said this has been done to harass leaders.

It also provides for an option to cast no-vote given that voters find no contestants to their liking.

Interestingly it also makes the current chief of Army General Moeen U. Ahmed ineligible for president. This may diffuse some rumors that he is planning to be the next president. According to the constitution, the persons ineligible to be a lawmaker shall not be qualified to vie for presidency as well.

I personally see most of the provisions in this RPO act as positive and beneficial to the country. There might be dispute on some of the provisions but I see the complete disregard of this act by the political parties illogical.


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