Friday, September 7, 2007

Who's running Bangladesh Part II

Things have really gone to pot in Bangladesh since I last covered the affairs in that country back in January.

To summarize quickly, Bangladesh has a quirk in their constitution where the prime minister is supposed to resign immediately before elections to make way for an interim PM, who is in turn supposed to preside over the government during the election cycle and thus prevent corruption.

After much in-fighting, Fakhruddin Ahmed was eventually appointed interim PM. He was a distinguished technocrat who was supposed to provide calm, neutral governance so elections could be held. But unfortunately he's turned into a bit of a tyrant over the last few months.

Although to be fair the country he inherited was hardly stable. Following the political breakdown that resulted in his appointment, Bangladesh was crippled with partisan strikes and political riots. Everyone was accusing each other of corruption, and the looming election looked like it was destined to be a violent nightmare.

Ahmed declared a state of emergency shortly after taking power, and the army pledged loyalty to him. Partisan activities were banned, and the leaders of both major political parties were arrested, as were numerous student activists and other political agitators. And of course the elections were cancelled, which in turn meant parliament was suspended indefinitely.

The president of Bangladesh, Iajuddin Ahmed (no relation), has been rather sidelined during all of this. But now he's in the news because his term was scheduled to end on Wednesday. In the Bangladeshi system the president is elected by parliament, but since there's no parliament, there can be no election. So President Ahmed said "fine, I'll just hang around then."

The interim Prime Minister says he still plans to hold elections before 2008, but the clock is rapidly ticking. And with everyone and everything of political relevance either banned or in jail, it's hard to see how the country is in any sort of shape for a democratic exercise.

The interim Prime Minister and his army backers.

3 comments:

iod said...

Hi JJ.

Another fascinating one. Mind if I translate it and post it on my Hebrew blog?

(oh, BTW, I'm now living in Toronto and starting my PhD in the PoliSci dept. of UofT. Funny, that, eh?)

J.J. said...

Go nuts sir!

Prophet of Pwnage said...

Jeez, what a messed up world. I bet the travel brochure for aliens visiting Earth is awful.