September 10, 2007

Indoor politics is back in Bangladesh: what next?

At last the stranglehold on Bangladesh politics has been relaxed for the better. Today the chief of Caretaker (interim) Government has declared in a televised speech to the nation that:

* announced an end to a long-running ban on indoor politics from Monday.
* no more cases would be filed and nobody would be harassed in connection with the incidents at Dhaka University and other public universities across the country late August.
* the national taskforce on corruption would not publish any new list of corruption suspects after the current month.
* there may be some mistakes his government made as there were mistakes by any government.
* repeated his pledge to transfer power to elected public representatives after arranging the elections by the 2008 deadline.

(video courtesy Voice of Bangladeshi Bloggers)

But what sort of politics can we expect when the supreme leaders of the major political parties are behind bars? There are already split within major parties. The Economist slammed the apparent minus two solution and comments:
this is not a country preparing for a return to democratic politics. The BNP is in a mess. Hours before her arrest, Khaleda Zia expelled Mannan Bhuiyan, the BNP's secretary-general, for “a conspiracy to split the party”. The League, for its part, has found it impossible to part with Sheikh Hasina, who remains popular. No self-respecting politician will enter the fray while the army runs the show. Mohammad Yunus, a Nobel-prize-winning microcredit pioneer once seen as a potential candidate to fill the political vacuum, floated a party earlier in the year, but has scrapped plans to enter politics.

...diplomats say that the present regime is “the only game in town”. The generals' secular stance and tough opposition to Islamist extremism still make them attractive to Western governments. But with the two big parties decapitated, the fear is that the Islamists, both the mainstream and a more radical margin, will profit from the political vacuum and growing economic discontent.
Update: Zafa analyzes the speech in a writeup in E-Bangladesh.


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