Government suffers from legitimacy: Hossain Zillur

Post the violent elections in Bangladesh conducted on January 5, the Executive Chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and a former advisor to the caretaker government of Bangladesh, Hossain Zillur Rahman, has pinpointed the failures of the elections that were also shunned globally.

“The election has led to a parliament whose legitimacy is questionable. The government which is in place now suffers from this legitimacy issue enormously at home and at abroad,” said Rahman.

hossain ZillurBangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, ended with more than two-thirds of seats in a contest that was shunned by international observers as flawed and derided as a farce by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). With fewer than half the seats contested, the outcome was never in doubt, reports ANI.

Rahman said that the low turnout in constituencies was primarily because it was widely perceived that the election was not a competitive one.

“The low turnout in the rest of the constituencies was primarily for the fact that people felt that it was not a competitive election, there was no actual competition. So people go to vote when there is this enthusiasm and you will find that in those constituencies where there was a bit of a competition, because of conflicts within the ruling party, the turnout was better,”said Rahman.

An election official, who declined to be identified because the figure was not final, told Reuters that the turnout was nearly 40 percent. A monitoring organisation, the Election Working Group, had put the turnout at 30 percent, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

In the last election, in 2008, a record 83 percent of voters cast ballots. In a 1996 election boycotted by the Awami League, 21 percent voted.

Rahman said that the question was about the legitimacy of the election.

“Is the election constitutionally valid; yes, it is valid in the sense that there is a, whatever maybe the flaw in the constitution, the constitution obviously remains in force. The question is not actually the technical argument about the legality of the election. It is about the legitimacy of the election. That is the core debate within the Bangladesh society and internationally,” noted Rahman.

The impasse between the two main parties, Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which showed no sign of easing, undermined the poll’s legitimacy and is fuelling worries of economic stagnation and further violence in the impoverished South Asian nation of 160 million.

Rahman felt that owing to the blame-game amongst political opponents, the scrutiny got embroiled in politicking.

“Unfortunately, the problem is compounded by the fact that an appropriate investigation on why this happened also got embroiled in politicking. The ruling group tried to force the whole blame on the opposition, the opposition argued that the ruling group was involved in independent scrutiny. In fact, we ourselves, quickly did some field level checking,” added Rahman.

Five people were killed on the outskirts of Dhaka on Monday in a clash between supporters of rival parties, with two more fatalities in rural areas, continuing a spate of violence in which 18 people were killed during polling and more than 100 in the run-up to the election.

Eighteen people were killed in separate incidents on election day, according to media reports, and voting was halted at more than 150 polling stations. More than 100 people were killed in the run-up to the ballot, mostly in rural areas, and fears of violence had been expected to keep many voters away.