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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Has democracy triumphed in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh's government has just stood down having completed its full term in parliament.
This is the first uninterrupted run a party has achieved in the country's 30 year history.
Many are hailing this as a triumph for democracy in a country whose past has been checkered with martial rule.
But for nearly half of this term the opposition boycotted the parliament saying the ruling party and the government had been hostile towards them.
The Awami League of outgoing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed has denied this, but they did the same thing when they were in opposition.
Why can't the ruling party and the opposition ever meet and comply with their parliamentary obligations? Or is it that ANY ruling party in Bangladesh cannot cope with dissenting voices?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Welcome to the club of democracies, Bangladesh! Hope your stay will be long and prosperous.
M. Saiful Islam, Bangladesh
If you study the world's developed economies, you will find that NOT a dictatorship, but a stable system is what is most important for the well-being of the general population. With the introduction of a caretaker government, I think Bangladesh has started that journey, in its own unique way. Moreover, I think this system will be implemented in other developing countries in coming years.
I think in broader perspective it is a good achievement, but if we try to analyse everything in detail there is a serious question mark. As a country not only do we have potential but also the capacity to make a democratic system more successful.
The real problem in Bangladeshi politics has been the presence of Sheikh Hasina. She has always taken the route of conspiracy, without giving priority to the people's verdict. Khaleda can also be charged with the same thing, but to a lesser degree.
Dr. Shabbir A. Bashar, USA
People in Bangladesh are fed up with the corrupt politics in this country. They see no hope in ANY of the political parties that exist. They are all in the game for their own personal benefit. Our selfish leaders do not believe in democracy so how can we expect the people to?
I have studied the politics of Bangladesh for many years, and have regularly travelled to the country since its creation.
As many people will admit, Sheikh Hasina's five year term in office has been the most troublesome in history: the economy has slumped; political freedom has been curbed; and the law and order situation has fallen to new depths.
Does it come as any surprise that in a recent survey, Bangladesh has been nominated as the most corrupt country in the world?
As many people will admit, democracy of this form does not help the situation in Bangladesh.
What is needed is a 'benevolent dictator', who cares for the country; eradicates corruption and pushes through reform to sort out economic problems.
Mohammed Anwar, USA
Well, Sheikh Hasina has finished her 5 year term and appointed a caretaker government as per the rules. That is the good news. Begum Khalida would do well to follow the same principle if she comes to power or be a responsible opposition if she fails to make it.
Good job Bangladesh. Keep it up!
It is indeed a good sign. However the real test will begin when the government can address and achieve success by ensuring freedom of religion, speech, press etc and of course in economic terms. Hopefully during the next term, more parliamentary norms will be practised with opposition involvement and alternatives to existing policies can be debated inside the house and not on streets which was the case during the last decade.
I would like to believe that this is the beginning of a true democracy. However, the real test will come after the elections. Will the loser resort to abuse and general strikes as the last two have done, or will they abide by the results and keep their opposition to parliament until the next elections?
Though democracy is much more than holding elections every few years, to complete the term is also important in countries which are still in the embryonic stage of democratic development.
Mojibur Rahman, Denmark
Despite the mixed results of Sheikh Hasina Wajed's
government, the very fact that a government in Bangladesh completed its full five-year term augurs well for democracy in the country. However, the participation in all sessions of the 7th Jatiya Sangsad by opposition political parties would have helped the strengthening of political institutions in the country. The lessons to be learnt by any party likely to emerge as the main opposition after the next election: do not boycott parliamentary sessions; make the government accountable by raising relevant issues and attacking government policies, and offering alternatives to government policies in parliament, rather than creating mayhem on the streets.
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