Intransigent and aggressive politics at the expense of public interest; heightened risk of undemocratic forces: TIB

HP News: Dhaka, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has voiced deep concern that any potential for a truly free and inclusive election is being almost totally lost as discernible from available indicators both prior to and following the announcement of the 12th Parliament election schedule. While on the one hand the Election Commission has failed to deliver some key objectives of its own 12th Parliament election action plan, the zero-sum game of staying in or ascending to power based on respective pre-determined strategy goes on intransigently, aggressively and violently at the expense of public interest. In a media statement issued today, TIB has raised the flag of a heightened risk that the escalating political violence and uncertainty can be beneficial only for undemocratic forces.

The statement says that the Election Commission has not taken any steps that could ensure neutral and conflict of interest free role of the election time government consistent with its own election action plan. It has not set any credible examples of actions either that could help build trust and confidence of all contending parties and the electorate at large that free, fair and inclusive election could be held. The Commission appears to be contented that it has finished its duties by some façade of consultations with some political parties without any concrete agenda on the key issue of non-partisan role of the election time government. Overwhelmed by the rule of thumb of duly holding the election, the commission has been de facto serving the agenda of a non-inclusive one-sided election.

TIB contends that a non-inclusive one-sided election may secure power, but not democracy, and not certainly the people’s right to vote, nor their trust. Similarly, violence can in no circumstances be the means to achieve political objectives. The statement strongly calls upon all relevant stakeholders to step away from the politics blinded by power that hold the people hostage. TIB Executive Director, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, emphasizes this concern, noting, “In the past month, approximately two hundred vehicles have been set ablaze, and trains have been targets of similar arson. We question the democratic value of such actions against public transport. Moreover, a political blame game is on alleging each other of responsibility for the violence and the overall crisis. The visibly dubious roles of state institutions raise more ominous concerns for the future of the democracy. When can we break free from this self-destructive political cycle?”

Dr. Zaman says, “We demand stringent accountability for all acts of violence through fair and unbiased investigations. It is disturbing however that the trials for political violence are being utilized as tools to stifle dissent and opponents. Cases are being filed even against deceased individuals, and if the accused are not located, their family members are detained. Is this justice? Is this the intended role of state institutions?”

Commenting on the perilously counterproductive impact of the violent and unstable politics on democracy, the Executive Director says, “The fear of heightened risk of undemocratic forces to gain ground exploiting the intransigently contradictory and violent political space is not unfounded. We call upon all stakeholders, including political parties, leaders-activists, election commission, law enforcement agencies and the administration, to recognize this heightened risk of stronger grounding of undemocratic forces and embrace the path of peace and reconciliation. In the midst of the stubbornly contradictory, unstable and violent zero-sum game of politics, where do the people stand? For the sake of the nation and the people at large, we appeal to all stakeholders to afford democracy a chance, place public interest on top, and give the people their due.”

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