Friday, January 23, 2009

Economist Intelligence Unit on Bangladesh

Key highlights from EIU's Janaury report on Bangladesh:

1. The Awami League (AL) is expected to serve a full term in office, having secured a huge parliamentary majority at the December 2008 general election.

2. The likely monopolisation of parliament by the AL for the next few years raises the risk of large street protests, a tactic that has been used in the past to express opposition to the government.

Selected comments on domestic political scenes:

1. Although the previous, caretaker government can take credit for creating the conditions for the most peaceful parliamentary election in a decade, the durability of these conditions of calm is far from assured. The risk of mass political protests, which characterised the political scene before the introduction of emergency rule at the start of 2007, persists.

2.It is too early to judge whether the army will withdraw completely from the political stage...the army’s involvement in an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign at least temporarily ended the culture of total impunity that had previously prevailed.

3. The creation of a National Security Council, which would have given the army a constitutional role in politics, appears unlikely to go ahead.

4. Sheikh Hasina is likely to need the army for her own protection (she narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in 2004) and to help thwart attempts by the BNP to resurrect the use of hartals (mass strikes involving street protests) as a tool of political opposition. An indication of whether Sheikh Hasina has come to an agreement with the army, as many believe she did prior to the election, will be the extent of new appointments in the armed forces.

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