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Lame duck Election Commission will be a sitting duck Commission

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By MAINUL HOSEIN
05th-Mar-2017       
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Free election is not the full answer for democracy to work. We shall need political reform to have democratically credible opposition. Continuing with the past and failed undemocratic leadership is not the way to save democracy. Threatening the opposition of dire consequences if they boycott the election cannot be the assurance of free election.

But unless we view the election crisis as a challenge to restore democratic accountability of the government and safety in public life. We shall not know the extent of our responsibility as a free nation determined to live in freedom.There is too much police power and very little political leadership.

We shall not be honouring the heroic achievement of Bangladesh as an independent country if we cannot prove our heroism in saving free election. We cannot be unmindful that it was over the sanctity of election that sparked off our liberation war. Basking in the past glory and betraying with the past glorious achievements is the meanest of hypocricy.

When we talk of free and fair election, we are talking of rights and ability to live together in peace and safety. The issue of free election means securing our right to choose our government on our own free will. Above all, we mean to establish the core value and spirit of our Liberation War. We have not liberated ourselves to live in fear of our own government.

To understand the depth of the challenge concerning the National Election it is very important in my view to assess the crisis of free and fair election in the context of accelerating chaos and corruption. We have a government that does not listen or care and is surviving within a self-built wall that has detached the government from the people.

Refusing a level playing field is not free election. To have some competitors as sitting ministers and MPs while others as ordinary candidates is discriminatory wrecking the very foundation of a free election.

The cause of free election is not an isolated single issue. Free and fair election is not itself democracy but it is the moving engine or the oxygen of democracy. The essential body-parts of democratic good governance decay and die in the absence of oxygen of free election.

The Election Commission was born as a lame duck and will be a sitting duck before the all powerful government in election time. Expecting everything from the lame duck Election Commission is not honesty. We the citizens have lost the voting power, we the citizens must win back our voting power for us and for the nation to have good governance we deserve.

There is doubt if the Chief Election Commissioner knows how impossible it is for him to promise free and fair election yet he is asking everyday to have confidence in him when he needs all the assurances of the government to be free and independent.

Under any functional Parliamentary System it is absurd to think that the parliament's election will be held without dissolving the Parliament and making the seats vacant. After the parliament is dissolved no government can remain elected. A system of government has to be followed all the way or not at all. Not following any system is the cause of disarray within the government. Signs of power without responsibility to be seen everywhere.

So the election time government itself competing to win in the election is the major stumbling block to the functioning of the Election Commission forcefully, independently and effectively.

Relying too much on the lame duck Election Commission is disowning our own responsibility. As citizens it is for us to neutralise the government for the Election Commission to act freely.

So we have to seek assurances from the incumbent government how it proposes to remain neutral for the Election Commission to be free to hold free election. The Chief Election Commissioner must move and must call on the government to discuss how to neutralise the government during election time. He must place some ideas of his own.

To hold election but offering no free choice to the people in a situation ripe for fire and furies could be disastrous.

Our foreign funded NGOs are interested in elections to show their activities, democracy or no democracy. They give facts and figures of bad governance and there they end their responsibility.

A closed government is no government. The government for its own good must open itself up to let in fresh air and fresh ideas.

It is with greatest of sadness, I note that our journalists and lawyers have forgotten the glory days when they were the best allies of democracy and devoted selflessly to defend the people. Our people feel adrift and uprooted in their own country living in an era of raw and shameless dishonesty.  

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