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Neutral election-time govt must for fair polls, seminar told

Democracy 2022-05-27, 9:50pm


Prof. Anwarullah Chowdhury addressing a roundtable organised by the Voice for Democracy and Voter Rights at the National Press Club on Friday.

The need for free and fair elections to restore democracy in the country was underlined at a roundtable in the capital on Friday. Eminent citizens felt the need for polls under a neutral government for the purpose.

The roundtable on democracy and rule of law in the context of Bangladesh was organised by the Voice for Democracy and Voters'Rights. Prof. Anwarullah Chowdhury, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University was the chief guest at the function presided over by Mostafa Kamal Majumder, editor, GreenWatch Dhaka. The function was also addressed by Prof Abdul Latif Masum, former vice-chancellor of Patuakhali University, Prof. Shah Alam of Chittagong University, Kader Gani Chowdhury, president of DUJ, Lutfunnahar Minu of Nagorik Oikya, Kazi Moniruzzaman Monir and Dr. Arifur Rahman Mollah. The programme was conducted by Humayun Kabir Bepari, secretary of the organisation.

The speakers that the administration has been so much politicised in the last 13 years that it is not possible for an election commission to hold free and fair elections save under a neutral government.

Prof. Anwarullah Chowdhury said that the country is now under an autocratic rule and the voting right of the people has been snatched. The people could not cast their votes in the last two general elections. Ballots were sealed in the night before and produced on the election day. The people were aware of this and do not want its recurrance, he said.

He said that democracy and rule of law are absent in the country which has been affected by enforced disappearances, killings, abductions and crossfire. Freedom of expression does no longer exist and freedom of the mass media has been suppressed. The people are deprieved even of the right to protection of law and justice. Price hike of essentials has made life difficut while looters laundered thousands of crores of taka abroad. Corruption has crossed all records, he said.

Prof Chowdhury criticised the threat to drop former prime minister Khaledda Zia into the Padma.

He said that the people of this country fought the war of liberation to escape from the Pakistani misrule but are now suffering under a worse misrule. He urged the intellectuals, professionals and the people to wake up for a change for the better.

Prof. Abdul Latif Masum said that the EC has now turned into a government organisation losing its character as an institution of the state and it shows its allegiance to the government, the last general elections have proved. He called for carrying forward the movement for democracy to change the scenario. 

Mostafa Kamal Majumder said that politicisation spread to all sphered of life so much so that those identified with the ruling party got everything and those belonging to the opposition were deprieved of everything. The entire administration has turned one-sided, he said.

Kader Gani Chowdhury discussed at length how democracy and the electoral system was undermined over the decades leading to the present situation. He called for a strong movement to restore democracy.

Lutfunnahar Minu called for a broad-based unity of the opposition political parties to bring back democracy and rule and law in the country through reforms. - News Desk