Month in review: Bangladesh
For the first time since restoration of democracy through a mass upsurge in 1990, the government employs the army to tackle political demonstrations in the city and elsewhere in the country. Deployed on December 9 following a unilateral decision of the president-cum-chief adviser, the armed forces swing into action to disperse pickets and chase off supporters of the 14-party combine and its allies as the latter clash with the police.
Back from Guantanamo
US authorities hand over a Bangladesh national to immigration and police at Zia International Airport after he has being held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba for the last five years for his alleged links with al-Qaeda. Mubarak Hossain, 30, son of Abul Hashem of Moin Madhyapara in Brahmanbaria, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001. Following his return, Mubarak is later detained for one month in Dhaka Central Jail by order of the home ministry for his anti-state activities. His release from Guantanamo is secured by the joint efforts of the Red Crescent, the home and foreign ministries, and his father.
Four advisers resign
Four advisers to the caretaker government finally resign in frustration over the president-cum-chief adviser's repeated unilateral actions on election issues. Advisers Dr Akbar Ali Khan, Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, CM Shafi Sami, and Sultana Kamal send in their resignation letters to the president and later tell reporters that despite their constant efforts they are not able to contribute in creating a congenial atmosphere for holding the next parliamentary election.
Awami League deal
The Awami League sign a five-point MoU with the Islamist party Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKM) promising that certified Alems (Islamic clerics) will have the right to issue fatwas (Islamic religious edicts), should the Awami League come to power through the upcoming elections. The MoU also pledges to impose a ban on enacting any law that goes against Quranic values, initiate steps for the proper implementation of a government initiative to recognise degrees awarded by Qaumi Madrasas and ban criticisms of the Prophet Muhammad.
Elections on (then off)
As many BNP leaders submit nomination papers across the country, the AL-led grand alliance finally declares that it will participate in the January 22 election. The change in the AL-led alliance's part comes after a sequence of negotiations for over one-and-a-half months between the council of advisers to the caretaker government and the two major political alliances. However, the rapprochement is short-lived.
Ershad barred from elections
Jatiya Party (JP) chairman, HM Ershad, is disqualified from the ballot, after being found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for graft in a case known infamously as "the Japanese boat purchase scam." Ershad claims the ruling is part of a larger conspiracy against him by the BNP. His disqualification forces the Awami League (AL)-led grand electoral alliance to re-think whether it will compete in the upcoming parliamentary election, on the grounds that the civil administration has not been de-politicised and that a level playing field for the election is "totally absent."
Photos: AFP, Star