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Election of Mayors has very little or no value

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10th-Jul-2017       
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THE suspension of Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) Mayor MA Mannan for the third time by Local Government Division on July 6 was highly disappointing to the nation which people see as a desperate attempt to debar a democratically elected representative of the people to function. The repeated suspension is no doubt a persistent denial of the rule of law and not only Gazipur mayor such undemocratic action of the government has also removed many other City Mayors across the country, mainly elected on opposition BNP nomination. We emphasize that election of Mayors has no or little value if they can't function.

It is highly inspiring that a High Court Bench on Sunday has put aside the suspension order of Gazipur City Mayor and asked the government to allow him to continue his office. It has also issued a rule on the government to explain in four weeks why the suspension order should not be declared illegal.

To clear the restoration of the Gazipur Mayor the High Court Bench comprising Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan has also stayed the appointment of a Commissioner of the City Corporation as Panel Mayor on temporary basis. We must say legal protection to an aggrieved person - whatever be his identity - is indeed a very effective protection to the rule of law and functioning of democracy. Public institutions can't serve the people without legal protection and it is most heartening that the higher judiciary is coming forward to protect people's fundamental rights.

Mayor Mannan could hardly take charge of his office this time cleared from the second suspension by an earlier court order when the third suspension came on him. Elected as a mayor on July 6, 2013 he could run office for only 18 months while he was in jail for the rest of the time on various police cases. 
 
We must say the government should allow democratically elected mayors in all cities to show respect to the will of the people. It can't be a practice that only Awami League backed mayors can function while mayors elected on BNP nomination can't. But not only Gazipur Mayor, Sylhet City Mayor and Habigonj Mayor also have to spent most of their time in jail and have to fight legal battles to come out of jail and resume functioning. 

The newly elected Comilla City Mayor was also suspended recently and in fact more than hundred Mayors and Upazila Chairmen all over the country are fighting such government suspension order using politically motivated criminal charges. The government's use of a law that allows the Local Government Division to suspend Mayors of local bodies if they are facing criminal charges is highly unjustified. A person can't be barred from office until his guilt can be proved in a court of law. Moreover MPs having similar criminal charges are enjoying impunity, because ruling party control the present Parliament where there is no opposition MPs to be taken care.   


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