Home » Politics: Bangladesh » >army influence may not go after Bangladesh polls: Reuters

>army influence may not go after Bangladesh polls: Reuters

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>PRO-democracy advocates hope the Bangladesh military will fade from politics after this month’s election, but that may only happen when and if the new government proves more stable and less corrupt than its predecessors, Anis Ahmed of Reuters writes.
Army generals ruling with iron fists dominated Bangladesh from 1975 to 1990, taking power in sometimes violent and sometimes bloodless coups.
Almost two years ago they re-entered the political fray, assuming a prominent role in the self-styled “interim authority” that is due to step aside for a new civilian government after the Dec. 29 parliamentary election.
Human rights groups and Western diplomats worry the military will be reluctant to stay away from politics for long, upsetting a transition to stable democracy that could help the country of more than 140 million attract investment, reduce massive poverty, and cut its dependence on foreign aid.
The “vote and an end to emergency rule do not equal democracy but are necessary preconditions to the country’s stability,” the well-respected Brussels-based International Crisis Group saidearlier this month.
But it went on to warn: “The political situation is complex and fragile. Regardless of who wins the election, the next government and the opposition parties will face the challenges of making parliament work and contending with an army that wants a greater say in politics.”
The army says that isn’t so.
Army chief General Moeen U. Ahmed said this week he and his troops were “happy to return to the barracks after accomplishing a task they were assigned to”, referring to implementing the interim government’s policies and helping organise and provide security for the election.
The army-backed interim authority took power amidst violence and political turmoil in January 2007, cancelling an election and instituting emergency rule that suspended many civil rights.
Retired generals held key posts in the cabinet and bodies like the Anti-Corruption Commission and Election Commission.

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