Month in review:
The imperial chief advisership
On November 9, the president-cum-chief adviser states in a speech that Bangladesh has reverted to presidential form of government, now that the positions of president and chief adviser are united in his person. He is forced to retract due to public outcry, but continues with his imperial style of running the government, keeping the rest of the advisers in the dark as to his decision to put the army on alert on November 12. Five of the advisers skip office on November 23 in apparent protest at the chief adviser's penchant for taking unilateral decisions without consulting the rest, as is mandated by the constitution. This estrangement between the chief advisers and the rest of the advisers is unprecedented in the brief history of the CTG.
And now the judiciary
In an unprecedented move, the chief justice, after closed-door consultation with the attorney general and the ex-law minister, on November 30 stays the proceedings of writ petitions challenging the legality of the president's taking over as chief adviser and his unilateral decision-making, mere minutes before a High Court bench was supposed to issue a ruling. Shocked by the order, lawyers and others present ransack the office of the chief justice, vandalize different sections of the Supreme Court, and set fire to the vehicle of former state minister for law, Shahjahan Omar. Legal experts say that for the chief justice to issue a stay order before the bench even admits a petition is unprecedented in the history of the High Court.
An Awami League activist is killed and 50 others injured, including one critically, when a police van drives through a group of 14-party coalition activists at Karwan Bazar in the capital on the second day of the countrywide program of an indefinite blockade by the coalition on November 13. The 14-party coalition continues with its on-again-off-again blockade program throughout the month, largely peacefully, but at Karwan Bazar it is the police, commanded by Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Kohinoor Mia, notorious for his brutality to demonstrators and fealty to the 4-party alliance, who instigate the rioting.
Take Back Bangladesh
Take Back Bangladesh, a platform for citizens who are unhappy with the current political impasse and wish for their voices to be heard, is formed and launches a black badge campaign on November 20 for free and fair elections. The movement, which seeks a way out of the current political crisis, endorses wholesale reconstitution of the Election Commission but rejects the politics of hartal and blockade programs as a means to achieve this end. The movement takes its message to the general public with a free concert at the Robindro Shorobor amphitheatre in Dhaka, that is attended by thousands and headlined by Hydar Hussain, Renaissance, Parthibo, and Cryptic Fate, among many others, who enthrall the audience with their passionate message of political inclusiveness.
EC crisis continues
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz verbally informs the president that he will take a three-month leave of absence in response to the presidential initiative to resolve the political deadlock centring on the popular demand for reconstitution of the Election Commission. Though it is hoped that this decision will put an end to the present political crisis, the situation takes a turn for the worse on November 27 when the acting CEC announces the schedule for the next parliamentary election, despite wide-spread belief that the schedule should be published only after reforms have been enacted, and appoints two new election commissioners, both of whom have links to the 4-party alliance, thus indicating that the EC remains very much in the hands of 4-party sympathizers.
Due to his sublime skills, Zinedine Zidane has often been referred to as a footballer from a different planet. People had a glimpse of what he could do with a ball for the last time in the final of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Arriving in Dhaka on November 6 for a three-day stay as a brand ambassador for Danone Foods, the living legend makes a public appearance at the Bangabandhu National Stadium that afternoon, playing in an exhibition game with youngsters, before visiting the head office of Grameen Bank on November 7. Thousands of fans jam the Bangladesh Football Federation telephone lines in their attempts to locate tickets, such is the enthusiasm to see him.