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It means to clinging to power thru elections under partisan govt: Civil society

15th amendment to Constitution

29 January 2023

Staff Reporter  :
Civil society members on Saturday said that the 15th amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh had been carried out with a view to clinging to power through election under a partisan government.
They also said that this amendment to the Constitution has also destroyed the process of peaceful transfer of power and posed a threat to the democratic system of the country.
The observation was made at a discussion over a webinar on the "Politics and evil-politics of the amendment of the Constitution" organised by Forum for Bangladesh Studies (FBS) in the capital.
Eminent Jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik said, "The 15th amendment to the Constitution was made to pave the path for holding election under partisan government in a bid to perpetuate the staying in power."
"As the owner of the state, we used to get an option for every five years for the selection of a government. But the amendment has revoked this option and it has posed a threat to our democratic system," he stressed.
He also said that this amendment to the Constitution was one of the most harmful verdicts in the last 50 years.
"Our people have mostly been affected by this verdict. The peaceful transfer of power has been destroyed. Our political arrangement has been destroyed as well," he said.
"I think the verdict was fixed earlier because the opinions of the amicus curiae have been ignored. The verdict has been delivered hastily on the basis of some unrealistic arguments," he opined.
In his keynote paper, Sushaner Janoya Nagrik (Sujan) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said, "The consequences of the 15th amendment are the outcomes of one-sided two failed elections in 2014 and 2018. It has created a vacuum in democracy and good governance. The check and balance in parliamentary election has been made ineffective." "There were some important political arrangements after the liberation in 1971. The parliamentary system of government was reestablished through the 12th amendment, while the non-partisan caretaker government was introduced for free and fair election through 13th amendment. But the cancellation of the caretaker government by the 15th amendment has destroyed the political arrangement," he pointed out.   Citing the example of the UK government, he said, "It is illogical to call the caretaker government undemocratic."
 He also said that the short verdict of the court about holding election under caretaker government for another two parliamentary elections has been misinterpreted and the system has been erased.
 Referring to the ongoing political stalemate, he said, "A free, fair, participatory and acceptable election is necessary for immediate resolution of the existing crisis. But fair polls are not adequate; another political arrangement is needed for a sustainable solution of the crisis."
 About the new political arrangement he said that the arrangement can be political consensus on the election time government, constitutional and administrative reforms, ensuring the capacity, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of all state institutions including Parliament and Election Commission, ensuring the rule of law and protection of human rights, and formulation of a 'national charter' for bringing change in political culture.
 Former Professor of Dhaka University Dr Ridwanul Haque said, "The constitutional amendment requires the participation of both the ruling party and the opposition. But in reality the ruling party controls it."
 He further said, "Now the major crisis is the absence of the process for peaceful transfer of power. This situation has been created due to the absence of the environment for free and fair election since 2014."
Researcher Adiba Aziz said, "The major two political parties opposed the caretaker government when they were in power. BNP opposed it in 1995, saying it was undemocratic. Later Awami League erased the system, echoing the same statement 'undemocratic".

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