Changing decision not to deploy army is a bad faith26 April 2015 Editorial Desk
At least some of the foreign diplomats in Bangladesh worry about the situation we are trapped in over the question of free and fair election. They are also perplexed to find that we are no good for protecting our basic rights to have our votes cast freely and counted decisively in public affairs.
Not to be able to ensure credible elections is a failure that no free people can take it shamelessly so that the election manipulators can prevail and not the people. The diplomats can rightly put us to shame by saying you should be able to solve your problems and cannot expect others to do it for you.
It is not that we do not know how much correct they are and how much bitter it is for us to live with the lies. The only problem is there is no easy answer except to say no country is an island and international cooperation is vital for freedoms to enjoy. Syria's President Assad is an example. Half of the country has gone out of his control and thousands of people had to leave the country. Still, because of global politics he is holding the position.
The involvement of the political activists of the government in the violence against the opposition has been exposed by the press all too clearly, yet the Chief Election Commissioner proved himself unable to condemn the extreme instances of violence against the leader of 20-party alliance Begum Khaleda Zia. Her personal car was attacked and damaged directly every time she came out to campaign in support of her beleaguered party candidates. Some members of her followers were injured. Such actions were not only violation of the election code of conduct but also the normal law of the country. But the Election Commission was quick to find violation of election code for the use of motorcade by the opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia.
On behalf of many governments including the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, concerns have been voiced against violence being openly practised in the mayoral election. But what is needed is a way out of the impasse, otherwise violence and lawlessness will continue. As because the system of governance will collapse under the burden of pervasive corruption if not for any other reason.
In respect of the worrying examples of violent conduct of the government supported activists the convener of the government backed Shohosro Nagorik Committee Syed Shamsul Haque reportedly had no difficulty in assuring diplomatically that after the election the country's politics would be normal and happy. His observation can be taken to mean in short that no meaningful election politics will survive after the election for the opposition or the people to fight about.
By its own acts and deeds the Chief Election Commissioner has shown he is unconcerned and not impartial defying public criticism which is being made in the responsible newspapers every day.
The Election Commission did not care that candidates must enjoy the freedom to engage in doing public relations activities. Some opposition candidates cannot come out for fear of arrest as they have politically motivated police cases pending against them. The Commission should have been in favour of temporary bail for them lasting upto the election period. Though their candidacy is legal but they are not legally free to meet the voters.
Now the honest prospect of peaceful mayoral election has been abandoned when the Election Commission had to revise the decision of deployment of the army. No consultation with the candidates was considered necessary. It is suspected that such drastic decision was taken to force the opposition to boycott the election. In that case the Election Commission will be free to declare, like in the general election, all the government backed candidates elected. This time it is learned that the opposition will go all the way.
The people like us who wanted to restore the people's confidence in election process and opposed violent and destructive means such as hartal and siege on the one hand and on other police repression, are disappointed.
Our national image as freedom loving people has been badly lowered in the eyes of the World community by the fact that we lack courage to have a free and fair election for saving our voting right to decide who shall govern over us. That we prefer to live voteless. Our Election Commission is too meek for the responsibility of holding the high position of constitutional sanctity.