Month in review: Bangladesh
A cold wave spreads across Bangladesh during the first week of January, resulting in alarming fatalities due to exposure and other cold-related diseases. Bangladesh's northern districts are the most severely hit and children and elderly are the most effected, as the death toll reaches over 150, and thousands seek treatment from local medical services.
On January 3, Awami League-led grand electoral alliance announces it will boycott and resist the parliamentary election set for January 22, alleging that all the electoral preparations by the caretaker government so far have been for "stage-managing the next election in favour of BNP-Jamaat-led four-party alliance." The AL commence a 72-hour blockade on January 7, demanding the postponement of the election date, a redrawing of the voter list, and a newly appointed caretaker government. The blockade is marked by clashes between law enforcement officers and AL members and demonstrators.
The credibility of the January 22 polls is publicly questioned by the international community as the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of European Commission to Bangladesh, Dr Stefan Frowein, and a team from the United Nations Development Program both state that without the participation of all the political parties, the elections cannot be considered acceptable.
On January 11, President Iajuddin Ahmed resigns from the post of chief adviser to the caretaker government, declaring a state of emergency in the country amid a growing political crisis over election. Nine advisers to the caretaker government also resign from their posts while Justice Fazlul Haque, the senior-most among the advisers, takes charge as acting chief adviser. Besides suspending all fundamental rights as described in the constitution, the authorities impose a six-hour curfew, from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am.
On January 12, Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed, a former governor of the Bangladesh Bank, assumes the office of chief adviser to the non-party caretaker government based on a consensus between the two major political alliances, marking the beginning of the reconstitution of the interim government. President Iajuddin Ahmed, who had declared a state of emergency across the country and resigned from the post of CA amid a growing political crisis over the parliamentary election, administers the oath of his successor at a ceremony in Bangabhaban Darbar Hall.
On January 16, the newly appointed caretaker government, in a landmark move publishes the gazette notifications of four rules relevant to separating the judiciary from the executive, after President Iajuddin Ahmed signs the documents of the four rules. The much-expected separation of the judiciary now requires only an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure as per the 12-point directive of the Supreme Court in 1999.
On January 21, Justice MA Aziz resigns from the post of chief election commissioner to avert further political unrest in the country, citing a major political alliance's lack of confidence in him. Meanwhile, the Election Commission secretariat issues a notification officially cancelling holding of the ninth parliamentary election for the scheduled January 22.
Police on launch a special drive to track down outlaws and other criminals and recover illegal arms in six districts in three divisions. Security is stepped up in the border areas to prevent the criminals and their godfathers from fleeing the country during the ongoing operation by the joint forces. This is part of a larger nation-wide crack down against corruption and designed to clean up Bangladesh. from graft and crime.
Photos: AFP, Star