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Election is the only option for saving democracy

By Editorial Desk
12th-Feb-2015       
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The newly arrived US Ambassador in Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat has expressed her deep concern last Tuesday over the situation in Bangladesh. She felt it necessary to remind our leaders that in a democracy space to opposition is needed for resolving the differences democratically. At the same time she emphasized that all sides have a role to play in the present crisis. Ms Bernicat has reiterated the call
from Washington that "everyone has a role to stop violence".
What has remained unsaid is that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself promised a solution to this crisis through an inclusive election after it was boycotted last year by the major opposition political party in the parliament. So we already have a democratic way in place for pursuing to its inevitable conclusion.
But it is unfortunate that the government thinks nobody has any role to play forgetting that the country belongs to us all and not just those few in power. A group of leading citizens took a move recently to bring the government and the opposition closer to initiate a dialogue to resolve the ongoing political crisis which is now through its 5th week of violence killing more than 88 persons and destroying public and private properties. They sent letters to President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia on Monday requesting them to positively respond to the initiative for a national dialogue while asking the President to promote it. But the citizens have already been rebuffed strongly by some ruling party leaders treating them as insignificant and not worth taking their role seriously.
The International Crisis Group warned, as many of us have been warning that "protracted and violent crisis would leave Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda  Zia the ultimate losers. It hinted not to make military intervention inevitable.
The British High Commissioner Robert Gibson met the opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia last evening and expressed anxiety about damage being caused to the nation. He also wanted resolution of the crisis by confidence building.
It is really painful that when normalcy can be so easily and democratically restored by holding an election why the country has to undergo all the destructions and human miseries, is not easy to comprehend.
It is misleading to talk about talks between the two leaders when there is a clear promise from the PM to hold a mid-term free and fair election. The question of dialogue should logically come after the announcement of the election.
As it appears, the government shows no interest in having the crisis resolved democratically. In the language of the Prime Minister's Political Adviser the government is preparing itself for a real war of liberation forces along with the better armed police. This war means absence of democracy.
But we believe that there must be some people who should come forward at this terrible moment to speak out the right thing  bravely and  suggest, not just dialogue, too often repeated and every time rejected. They must have concrete and a practical  proposal this time to make their effort serious. They will have to think what they can do to be helpful and not just ask the leaders to sit together. The leaders must be given a clear message about what they must do to save the country.
Nowhere the politicians are considered all wise. They can be reckless in defending themselves in power. The opposition can also be ruthless in their struggle for power. But the country is to be saved from self-destructive politics by the more active role of the politically uninvolved intellectuals. The national dialogue should continue embracing more and more individuals.
Our emphasis is on the Prime Minister's promise of fresh election and in our view that is the only democratic and practical way for ending the national tragedy both sad and shameful.
The British High Commissioner is right that confidence building among the political parties is very much needed. Whatever be the result of the promised election, if it ever takes place, the consequences have to be the beginning of new politics of tolerance and not more of the same vindictive politics.
We are gravely worried for the reason we see the violent activities are going out of control. We cannot convince ourselves and do not see any sign that the situation is improving in any way. It is no less a shame for us the foreign diplomats find us so helpless that without their help no solution is possible by us.

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