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Bangladesh - November 20, 2023

Govt faces so many election challenges

Special Correspondent: Along with politics, the country’s economy is going through a multifaceted crisis. In the meantime, the Election Commission has announced the schedule of the 12th National Parliament election. Although several parties, including BNP, have been protesting for a long time demanding the resignation of the current government and a non-partisan caretaker government, the national elections are going to be held under the government led by Sheikh Hasina. However, the current government has to face several challenges during the election. Analysts believe that Awami League will have to face these challenges in the coming days for political and economic stability if it wins the election and forms the government for the fourth consecutive time.
Economists and political analysts are talking about seven challenges facing the government in the current situation. The challenges that emerged from their observations are not to allow the existing weak macroeconomics to weaken further, to keep the Election Commission and administration free from influence, to protect the minds of foreigners on national election issues, to drive voters to the polling booths, to deal with the ongoing political violence and mass arrests, to satisfactorily resolve labor unrest and commodity prices and don’t let it grow.
Analysts claim that these challenges, though different in scope, all have direct relevance to the upcoming national elections. There is no opportunity to emphasize any of them and ignore the others. In other words, this government in charge during the elections should not only try to pass the electoral process, but should give equal importance and deep focus to face all the challenges. Or the next government and the country may have to suffer.
During the election, the former caretaker government’s financial advisor AB Mirza Azizul Islamsaid about the government’s challenges, “In addition to being election-oriented, the government should face the existing challenges of the economy equally.” In particular, high inflation, continuous deterioration of reserves, high volatility of foreign exchange rates, increasing non-performing loans in the banking sector and slowing down of credit growth in the private sector need to be kept in check. Otherwise, the economy will become more fragile. The next government will have to pay for it.
Prominent political scientist professor Dr. Harun Or Rashid told, “free and fair election is the biggest challenge of the government during the election. Which will be free from the influence of the administration and the people will vote for it, the results will reflect that. However, the government has expressed its hope that this year’s election will be the fairest in the context of Bangladesh. Matching these words and deeds will be one of the challenges of the government during the election.
In response to the question whether the acceptance will be questionable if the election is not participatory, he said, “The election is complete if everyone comes.” But in the end, how participatory it is should not matter to the government, the world community or the people. Because no one can be forced to participate if they don’t want to. But that my vote may be cast, that it may be deposited with him for whom I vote, that is, that it may not be overturned by any kind of influence-that, I think, ought to be the concern of all, to be assured at this election time. The responsibility of the government.’
Meanwhile, the unbridled rise in commodity prices has made life difficult for the common man for a long time. The inflation figures published by the Bureau of Statistics (BBS) also show evidence of this in Bangladesh. The country’s overall inflation rate was 9.93 percent last October. The food inflation rate was 12.56 percent, the highest in the last 11 years and 9 months. Apart from this, food inflation has been over 12 percent for the last three months. In other words, the reins of food inflation are not being pulled at all. This means that people with limited income have to struggle just to buy food to survive.
Professor Dr. Haroon or Rashid thinks that this situation may cause discomfort in the election campaign of the rulers. He said, ‘It will not be done only by election. In order to win, the verdict of the people must also be gained. But inflation is becoming unbearable due to unbridled rise in commodity prices. There is disaster and suffering in public life. There is dissatisfaction among people. Therefore, one of the challenges of this government is to bring home the benefits of the necessary steps to keep the prices of daily necessities bearable to the people, at least within the purchasing power. And security of public property is a routine responsibility of any government. Although there is extra pressure at this time, preparation for which should be kept from now.
On the other hand, in view of the ongoing political uncertainty, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group of the United Nations Human Rights Council, an alliance representing 47 countries, reviewed the human rights situation in Bangladesh. Where apart from the arbitrary arrest of anti-Bangladesh political activists and protesters, various aspects including disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and deaths in custody came up for discussion. Apart from this, issues of labor rights, freedom of expression, gender equality and human trafficking are also featured. In the meantime, last Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the application of visa policies and sanctions to protect labor rights and human rights in Bangladesh.
When asked how the government will deal with this global pressure, political scientist Harun Aur Rashid said, “Apparently, it may seem that it is a challenge to keep the support of the international community for the government during the election. But the picture behind the scenes is different. Because, in geopolitics, the interests of international communities become a bigger issue than democracy and human rights. Therefore, the international community is silent even though the genocide is going on in Palestine. Everyone should understand this. I think, Bangladesh’s human rights and elections have never been a big headache for other international communities, including the United States, and still are not. What is happening is more geo-political reasons including their own business and trade, which should not be the main issue for the government during the election.
On the other hand, the Election Commission will conduct the election. Therefore, the big challenge of the government during the election will be to keep the mentality of letting this commission work impartially and independently. Retired Justice MA Matin of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court made such a comment. When asked about this, he told, “The first responsibility of the state or government is to enforce law and order.” to control So that the people of the country do not feel any apprehension about the security during the election period. At the same time, it is the responsibility of this government to bring back the confidence of the people on the electoral system.

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