BANGLADESH: Former ruling party is close to collapse (Oxford Analytica, 30 October 2007)
BANGLADESH: Former Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar today was jailed for illegal firearms possession. His conviction is the latest sign of progress in a major anti-corruption campaign launched by the military-backed government earlier this year after the postponement of elections. Since then, dozens of politicians have been detained, including former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia.
Babar served under Zia, whose Bangladeshi Nationalist Party is in a fragile state. Attempts by members to reform it have been resisted, prompting the departure of prominent party personalities such as Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.
Reports today indicate that Saifur Rahman, a former finance minister, has been appointed acting chairman in Zia's absence, while Hafizudden Ahmed has become secretary general -- in place of the former prime minister's appointee, Khandaker Delwar Hossain.
The nature of a scheduled return to democratic and civilian government next year will be largely dependent on the success of efforts to overhaul the political system. Its prospects will be doubtful without faster progress on the reform of existing parties and/or the emergence of credible alternatives.