Bangladesh- Democracy Saved or Sunk

Bangladesh- Democracy Saved or Sunk - Bangladesh: Democracy...

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Bangladesh: Democracy Saved or Sunk? By Jalal Alamgir Posted April 2007 Many in Bangladesh are relieved that the military stepped in to liberate them from political chaos. But this move has set the country on a slippery slope to authoritarian rule. In the long run, the best formula for success is to build Bangladesh into a showcase for democracy in the Islamic world. Guardians of democracy? Bangladesh’s new authoritarian rulers are destroying what’s left of the country’s democratic institutions. On January 11, Bangladesh began yet another tumultuous political transformation. A caretaker government backed by the military took over power, declared a state of emergency, and postponed national elections. Most Bangladeshis sighed relief. Within weeks, the newly installed government began a “war” against corruption, arresting scores of top politicians in dramatic midnight raids and sending them straight to prison. Most Bangladeshis became exuberant, and many are demanding summary trials for the corrupt. While stressing that democracy needs to be restored eventually, foreign diplomats also cheered on the new government’s assertive line. The British High Commissioner said he was “pleased with the approach that was taken,” and more recently, the U.S. assistant secretary of state said his country was “strongly supportive of the reform steps.” After a 16-year experiment with democracy, Bangladesh’s return to authoritarianism feels to many like a refreshing change. It wasn’t always like this. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations used to hail Bangladesh as an example to the rest of the Islamic world: a moderate Muslim democracy. As recently as 2002, public support for democracy was overwhelming in the country, as several surveys showed. Bangladesh enjoyed secular institutions and a growing economy. It held regular elections, and power rotated between the two major parties, the center-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the center-left Awami League. But, despite the public’s commitment to democratic institutions, contempt was
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Bangladesh- Democracy Saved or Sunk - Bangladesh: Democracy...

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