Friday, January 12, 2007

Bangladesh in State of Emergency

The President of Bangladesh last night declared a State of Emergency and then resigned as Chief Advisor to the interim government. He is still the President of Bangladesh however, and in this capacity has suspended the constitution, and the election scheduled for the 22nd January. As a result, non-State television is banned from showing current affairs or political programmes, whilst newspapers have been warned not to criticise decisions made by the President.

In addition, 9 of the 10 advisors that make up the interim government have also resigned, and a curfew was instigated with no end date, running from 11 pm until 5 am each day. This leaves us house bound from 10 pm, and restricts our movement considerably.

This move will have satisfied the Awami League opposition who were demanding these things, but now makes the election very unlikely by January 25th, the constitutional deadline for it to take place. This will make the BNP (the former government) unhappy and they are likely to head to the streets from Sunday instead. There are also expected to be blockades of Dhaka from Sunday and hartels next week. Hartels are essentially political strikes that are often (or usually) violent.

As a result, Bangladesh is in a political limbo: 5000 people are detained without trial until the election takes place, the police and army have the right of arrest for any reason at any time of any person, the consitutition is suspended, with the legal, freedom of press and freedom of movement sections particularly affected, and there is no election date. We are waiting until tomorrow to see what will be the outcome.

At least we are safe at the moment, and the violence is just to the north of where I am living, not in our patch. We are on a day alert for evacuation if it does get worse for us, but foreigners are not a target, we just need to keep our heads down.

The saddest thing is that this will continue to hamper any progress that the country could make, and the whole episode could be a wider BNP strategy to ensure that they can still win. There are no moves on the voters role and other issues, so it is what this space.

Dont listen to the BBC reports though, they are a little sensationalist and not the full picture. And there is no need to worry about us if anyone is.


Rezwan said...

Hope everything will come to normal soon. It seems like a disguised coup as its signature marks are all over. Mass crackdown on the corrupt politicians businessmen political leaning alike should be supported by the people. Hope we have an all party election and democracy restored soon enough.

Maria said...

Wishing that it turn it back in normal,Bangladesh people need to move on.