Local govt. elections amid emergency
Sunday, 10 August 2008

While the Government is maintaining that the Emergency must remain in place to ensure peace and security, the political parties on the other hand are insisting that the Emergency is a barrier to creating a congenial atmosphere for holding the national elections. Public opinion is firmly in favor of lifting the Emergency as soon as possible, if not immediately. The issue of holding upazilla polls before the parliamentary ones is another divisive factor. The Government and the EC want to hold elections to some 350 upazillas by October 2008; the political parties oppose it on the grounds that the main task of the EC is to hold Parliamentary elections; the public is divided between these two opinions and so are the grassroots levels of the major political parties. The Emergency Government has lost even its face value of fighting against corruption and instituting reforms in politics and governance. The crux of the whole problem lies in the need of the Emergency Government to make pretty sure that both it and its measures receive ratification by the next Parliament, thereby providing it with some sort of justification and legitimacy of its two years in office. One and a half year after the Emergency was imposed, we are once again faced with discordance between what the Government and the EC wants, what the political parties want and what the people want; the people being used by both the Government and the political parties to justify their points of view. Such differences of opinion are recipes for discord and conflict which in the first place led to the imposition of the Emergency. It is now of course clear to all and sundry that the government sponsored political dialogues was a ploy to divert attention and waste time of the major political parties in useless parleys while it goes ahead with its various agendas which are now slowly unfolding. Our pessimism regarding the whole process of heading towards the national elections stems from our past experiences of authoritarian regimes manipulating politics to monopolize state power. We are wary of having to tread that path again .

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