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01st-Aug-2015

‘From Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, citizens work to keep elections safe...’

By MAINUL HOSEIN

Some government pleasers were found anxious to tell for the consumption of the failed ones in the government that President of the United States Mr Barack Obama has praised Bangladesh during his recent visit to Africa - meaning supporting some success stories of Bangladesh. They however,          refrained from quoting him. Indeed, President Obama praised Bangladesh, not the government but the people, though Bangladesh's situation was not discussed directly. So he referred to Bangladesh in the context of elections for the development of the countries. He was advocating the ideas which he considered important for development that Africa needed to follow. He wanted the people of Africa to come out of the shadow of the past to seize the opportunities of the present here and now. It is true that he praised the citizens of Bangladesh for working towards rescuing elections from becoming unsafe from being engineered. But diplomatically, he referred to Zimbabwe perhaps keeping in mind the kind of democracy we have.  It should better be said that President Obama alluded to the need of free and regular elections for good governance for making genuine development possible. In his speeches, in Kenya he also pointed out how national unity and tolerance among each other can enable a country for best use of its potentials for substantial progress. Bangladesh came up with one sentence reference in his long speech as to the role of entrepreneurship for developing a country and told the audience: 'From Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, citizens work to keep elections safe...'Thus, the US President was acknowledging the awareness of eagerness among the people of Bangladesh for free and fair elections. The necessary implication was that in the present politics of Bangladesh elections are not safe to be free and fair. One can also say that President Obama has hinted about the kind of democracy being practised in Bangladesh by citing the example of Zimbabwe. It is a shame that there is every similarity between the conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.  Let us study the state of democracy in Zimbabwe. According to an international media's report, since the defeat of the Constitutional Referendum in 2000, politics in Zimbabwe has been marked by a move away from the norms of democratic governance, such as democratic elections, independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, freedom from racial discrimination, the existence of independent media, civil society and academia are rather dysfunctional or non-existent. Recent years have seen widespread violations of human rights.The report further says that elections in Zimbabwe have been marked by political violence and intimidation, along with the politicisation of the judiciary,  military,  police force  and the public services. Statements by the President and government politicians have referred to a state of war, or Chimurenga, against the opposition political parties, in particular the Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai (MDC-T). Newspapers, not aligned with the government, have been closed down, members of the judiciary have either been threatened or arrested. Repressive laws aimed at preventing freedom of speech, assembly and association have been enacted, implemented and subjectively enforced. Members of the opposition are routinely arrested and harassed, with some subjected to torture or sentenced to jail. The legal system has come under increasing threat. The MDC has repeatedly attempted to use the legal system to challenge the ruling ZANU-PF, but the court rulings, which often go in favour of the MDC, have not been taken into account by the police. In Bangladesh, instead of allowing the people to judge the performance of the government, the sycophants are too keen to hide the chaotic situation in the government itself. They have no shame to talk about role model of development in Bangladesh, if corruption and incompetence are not being regarded as development model. Our government should try to examine what they are doing under the slogan of democracy and compare its activities with the African country of Zimbabwe. The blueprint the government is following is the leftist authoritarianism blueprint borrowed from other countries like Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was misleadingly advised when she claimed during her last family visit to London that her's is a Westminster type of democracy. It seems she is practising autocracy of Zimbabwean type unknowingly. But one thing she knows better, she cannot make elections safe and free. Corruption has replaced democracy. She has nothing to fear from BNP of mother and son. Her real fear is  our own people.