Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lock up your leading ladies

Read this article from The Economist "Lock up your leading ladies" published on July 19, 2007. This analysis raises valid questions about the military government's motive in Bangladesh. As the article begins with: "IN MOST countries, ambitious generals and unelected governments have a poor track record of delivering democracy. But this is still the promise to Bangladesh made by the generals who assumed emergency powers in January and the pliable administration they installed. This week the election commission published a roadmap to parliamentary elections to be held before the end of 2008. But the government was silent on when the state of emergency will be lifted.

The next day the government reminded people of one reason why their constitutional rights remain suspended. It stepped up its purge of corrupt politicians, officials and businessmen, more than 150 of whom have been arrested since the beginning of the year".

This article predicts that the military backed government will loose support and credibility when they're moving to amend constitution. As it concludes, "The anti-corruption drive has made the unelected regime relatively popular. But critics are now accusing it of abusing its wide-ranging emergency powers for political purposes. With almost the entire political class behind bars, the fear is that elections staged at the end of the clean-up will produce a puppet regime.

Last week the army chief, General Moeen U Ahmed, said that there was a need to “correct the constitution”, after a new parliament is in place. Though largely unreported, General Ahmed's promotion in May to a four-star rank means that he will stay on as army chief beyond his original retirement date of June 2008 into 2009, beyond the deadline for elections. There is already talk in Dhaka that the army is thinking of changing the constitution along Turkish lines, giving itself a bigger role. This raises a grim prospect of a technocratic, top-down constitutional review, and an outcome few Bangladeshis would accept as legitimate".

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