The Awami League led Grand Alliance government amended the Constitution, ignoring protests from the main Opposition and other political parties; and criticism from various sectors of society. This Amendment was possible as the Alliance had the power of absolute majority in the Parliament before the elections, which were held on January 5, 2014 on the pretext of ‘constitutional obligation’. The (Fifteenth) Amendment abolished the caretaker government system and ignored the Supreme Court’s observation that at least two more elections could be held under the non-partisan caretaker government before the system was abolished. Despite its criticques, the caretaker system was the result of a political consensus of the major political parties. It’s unilateral abolition without any politcal consultation with the opposition parties or people’s mandate, has set Bangladesh on the path to unending political instability and conflict. Furthermore, the government has been brutally suppressing opposition and threatening dissenting voices and others. Arrests, violence, killings and disappearances are all common ways to suppress programmes planned by opposition political parties. This was evident when the opposition called general strikes and blockade programmes by boycotting the elections. Hartals and blockade programmes called by the opposition have also led to deaths, maiming and daily suffering of ordinary citizens. As per reports, the ruling Awami League governemnt had disenfranchised the constitutional rights of 40,802,739 voters out of 91,948,861 voters by unilaterally electing 153 candidates unopposed. If the possession of power by a controversial government continues in the name of ‘constitutional obligation’, it would not only make Bangladesh unstable and violent, but may spill over the borders precipitating instability in the South Asia region.
In this context Odhikar expects a meaningful and purposeful engagement by all stakeholders before the degradation accelerates. Odhikar firmly believes that there is no other constructive option except a fair, peaceful and credible election in Bangladesh under any system acceptable to all contending parties. It is impossible to make the country stable merely by manipulating the statistics of ‘economic development’ and ignoring the current vulnerable, unstable and confrontational political climate and high levels of corruption. Continuation of the present situation may bring dangerous consequences for the human rights situation of Bangladesh over all sectors.