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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.

Your reaction

Welcome to the club of democracies, Bangladesh! Hope your stay will be long and prosperous.
P. Verma, India

Completing the first full term by an elected government in Bangladesh is definitely a milestone

M. Saiful Islam, Bangladesh
The main reason for the slow progress of democracy in Bangladesh is that a good number of the country's political parties do not have a genuine commitment to democracy or even for a progressive and prosperous Bangladesh. As long as the people of Bangladesh do not realise the true character of these political parties and their so-called leaders, the establishment of democracy will remain a far cry. Completing the first full term by an elected government in Bangladesh is definitely a milestone for the country's march towards democracy.
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.
Shahed Alam, Bangladesh/ USA

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.
Rubaiyat Rahman, Texas, USA

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.
Chris Carroll, USA

There needs to be transparency and accountability at every level of government

Dr. Shabbir A. Bashar, USA
While it may be true that democracy, at least as a notion, may be taking roots in Bangladesh, I think it has far from triumphed. There needs to be transparency and accountability at every level of government. Incompetence, nepotism and a general lack of law and order have escalated to such a point earning the country the dubious title of being perceived as THE most corrupt country out of 91 surveyed nations. At best, democracy is nascent in Bangladesh ... the notion has to penetrate deep into the hearts and minds of all the people so a democratic government of the people, by the people and for the people can be formed. There's quite a way to go before it can be compared to the spirit of Magna Carta or the French Revolution
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?
Mahtab Hossain, Bangladesh

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.
Ibn Habibur Rahman, UK/ Bangladesh

These 5 years have been the most troublesome in Bangladeshi history

Mohammed Anwar, USA
What difference does it make whether or not a 5 year term was completed? These 5 years have been the most troublesome in Bangladeshi history. If this same government is elected again, then this is the end for this country.
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.
Ashesh, USA

Good job Bangladesh. Keep it up!
Vivek Manchanda, US/ India

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.
Syed A. Jamil, USA/ Bangladesh

This is a most important achievement for the Bangladeshi people

Santosh, India
This is a most important achievement for the Bangladeshi people. In this global village, people want peace and prosperity. Development has become a synonym for peace. I congratulate the leaders and the people, in particular, for their courage to dream.
Santosh, India

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?
Qaiser Khan, USA

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.
Ahmad R. Shahid, Pakistan/USA

It's a very good development indeed

Mojibur Rahman, Denmark
It's a very good development indeed. The history of democracy in Bangladesh is quite recent and because of a lack of democratic practice, the leaders have not been able to follow parliamentary norms. But the completion of a full term of the last parliament will enhance the possibility of continued parliamentary stability. Obviously the success depends on the continued practice of parliamentary democracy. But the quality of leadership is must to enhance that trend. Democratic practice within political practice can establish a truly democratic and prosperous Bangladesh in future.
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.
Dr. Ishtiaq Hossain, Singapore

Listen now
.... to both sides of the debate
See also:

29 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh premier sets handover date
05 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
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