Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bangladesh snowballing into crisis?

From NEW AGE editorial:

THE principal cause of discord and discontent within the ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, as pointed out in a report front-paged in New Age on Wednesday, seems to centre the question of accommodating those leaders in the policymaking forums who are perceived to have either tacitly endorsed or hobnobbed with the military-controlled interim government of Fakhruddin Ahmed in the early days of its tenure.

In other words, the two major political parties of the country remain tangled in the legacy of the unconstitutional administration that, in its tenure of nearly two years, kept the fundamental rights of the people suspended under a crippling state of emergency and also attempted, abortively, to redraw the political landscape. The debilitating impact that the emergency regime has had on the political process could very well be measured by the growing tension, if not outright conflict, within and between the Awami League and the BNP.

It is needless to say that such inter- and intra-party conflicts have left the political process eminently vulnerable. As if to highlight such vulnerability, there have already been allegations and counter-allegations in the corridor of power about a brewing conspiracy towards the ouster of an elected government. The prime minister herself as recently as on Sunday evening, at a reception in New York, warned of a re-enactment of January 11, 2007-like changeover in her call to the main opposition leader for end to her party’s boycott of parliament.

It cannot be overemphasised that confrontation between the two major political parties in late 2006, which threatened to the send the country hurtling down the path of prolonged political uncertainty and social disorder, created the opportunity for certain apolitical and political quarters to fish in the muddied water and eventually engineer an extra-constitutional intervention in the political process. Regrettably, within eight months of the country having come out of the dark phase in its history, the intra-party power struggle threatens to lead it towards yet more uncertainties.

The two topmost political leaders need to realise that the situation, as it stands now, may be more complicated than it was before the January 11, 2007 changeover, with intra-party tension thrown into the mix. It is not that the two leaders are not aware of the gravity of the situation; their recent statements tend to indicate that they are. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have sincerely tried to resolve the standoff, both between and within the parties, with decisive and definitive steps.

Although the Awami League has dealt with the so-called ‘pro-reform’ leaders in its own way, the issue remains far from being resolved. On the other hand, the BNP has thus far been more or less indecisive, although there have been indications that it may address the issue soon. Overall, both the AL and BNP leaderships have allowed the standoff, both within and between their respective parties, to procrastinate, perhaps to a point that it threatens to deal a debilitating blow to the political process.

It’s about time they confronted the problems head on before they snowball into a crisis.