Democracy rests on inclusive polls | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 25, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:21 AM, February 25, 2018

Democracy rests on inclusive polls

Civil society members tell discussion

A section of civil society members yesterday said the country may face “dire consequences” if the upcoming parliamentary election is not held in an inclusive, free and fair manner.

They said another “sham election” like the one in 2014 may threaten Bangladesh's status as a democratic country.

They were addressing a roundtable discussion titled, “Participatory election and democracy in Bangladesh”, at Jatiya Press Club. The Dhaka Forum, a pro-BNP platform, organised it.

The speakers also expressed doubt about how the Awami League and the BNP will ensure democracy while there is no democratic practice inside the two parties.

M Hafizuddin Khan, former adviser to a caretaker government, said an inclusive election cannot be expected if the government and the Election Commission maintain the “attitudes” they are showing now.

He said the prime minister has already started her party's election campaign while the activities of another major party have been suppressed. “The EC is yet to gain confidence of the people to hold a free, fair and credible election.”

Pointing to Indian army chief's recent comments on Bangladesh, he said it is regretful that neither foreign ministry officials nor ruling party leaders have yet to respond to the issue.

Barrister Mainul Hosein, another former adviser to a caretaker government, slammed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for terming civil society members “donkey”.

He said almost all the democratic institutions have been destroyed due to the “absence of a democratic government”.

“Corrupt individuals are presently being given importance in the absence of democracy and election,” he said.

Echoing Mainul, former Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed said the country lacks strong governance. All have to suffer if the governing system gets weakened, he said.

Salehuddin stressed the need for holding dialogues among political parties to break the current deadlock.

Pointing to question leaks and scam in the banking sector, he said if the government is sincere, the persons involved in such irregularities will be brought to book within a week.

M Serajul Islam, a former ambassador, said holding of the next election keeping the present parliament effective and its members in office will be “a violation” of the parliamentary system.

BNP standing committee member Amir Khashru Mahmud Chowdhury said enhancing the prime minister's power under the 15th amendment is a formidable obstacle to holding a free and fair election.

Abul Hasan Chowdhury, a former state minister for foreign affairs, Prof Dilara Chowdhury, a political analyst, and Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, also spoke on the occasion.

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