January 25, 2007

The story behind the story

Dr. Abdul Momen, a professor of Economics and Business Management from Boston, USA was instrumental in getting the Army involved in UN peacekeeping forces. He tells the story behind the recent state of emergency (read 'bloodless diplomatic coup') in Bangladesh.
"In this city of rumors, the story that emanates from the Dhaka cantonment goes like this. The Army Chief Lt. Gen. Moeen Ahmed of greater Noakhali, the home district of former Prime Minister Begum Zia was not still convinced to move. However, his 9th Division Commanding Officer, Major General Masud, a close relative of Major (Retd) Said Iskander, Begum Zia’s younger brother, reportedly betrayed and surrounded the Banga Bhavan and asked President Iazuddin Ahmed to resign from his CA position and declare a state of emergency. [Anti-AL general, Maj. Gen. Matin, a former DGFI Chief now an Advisor might have played a role too]. He initially refused and as usual desired to speak to Begum Zia. But he was not allowed. His Press Advisor Moklesur Rahman in the meantime alerted Major General Razzakul Haider, the Chief of the President’s Guard Regiment. When General Haider appeared, he was immediately disarmed and later retired. The NSI Chief was also retired as he made some opposing noise. It is rumored that President called for his most trusted advisor Moklesur Rahman and when he appeared and made some noise, an army officer gave him a blow in front of the President and Mokles started bleeding, and he was forced to quit. Seeing such situation, President without any hesitation immediately agreed to resign and also agreed to read out ‘a prepared speech’ drafted by the army. He was cautioned that if he vacillates, he would be taken into task. His speech for the nation was pre-recorded. Few advisors that came for a meeting with the CA were simply puzzled and tried to submit their resignation. Unfortunately, they could not do so as their CA was gone when they were ready.

In the speech, President stated that the ‘Voter List was inaccurate, the EC commission needs reform, more administrative changes are necessary to create level playing field and the like that were the common demands of the Mohajote and the civil societies. As it appears, he was reading an AL drafted speech but in fact, it was reportedly drafted by army officers. The AL intelligence was so poor that they had no knowledge of such draft.

The Army decided whom to make the Chief Advisor and approached both Sheikh Hasina and Begum Zia as per the Constitution to get their consent. It is reported that they also contacted Nobel Laureate Professor Mohammed Yunus prior to selecting Fakruddin Ahmed as their CA. The CA picked up 10 advisors and few of them are his own relatives. Most of the new advisors are professionals and some of them are pro-BNP. In spite of their connection, people generally believe that they would rise up above partisanship.

As some quarters in the army close to Begum Zia or Said Iskhander might create trouble, the army imposed a ’11 PM to 5 AM’ curfew for the 1st night. However, on the following day, the three Chiefs along with Gen. Masud of the 9th Division appeared before the officers of Bangladesh armed forces--- army, navy and air forces at the Cantonment and narrated the events leading to the ‘state of emergency’ especially the threat of the UN of its suspension of all Peace Mission assignments abroad. The officers overwhelmingly approved their behind-the-scene takeover. However, as against the perception of some quarters that the army would like to prolong the emergency for a longer period, at least two years, I am reported that army officers overwhelmingly wanted to get a credible election as soon as possible. They believe that they can get the voter list corrected within 45 days and can get the election over with within 90 days. It is rumored that the BRAC proposed that they can get the Voter List plus photo IDs within 30 days and the Bangladesh Army could get Voter List and Photo IDs within 5 weeks’ time. However, few analysts believe that it might take 4 to 6 months to get the Voter List and Photo IDs."
Via Sada kalo.


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