Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What should the Army do?

Here is what they should do. They should do what they have been brought in to do – ensure a free and fair election. All civilian approach in fixing our current political impasse seems to have fallen flat on its face. Military might, backed by some politically astute and rational thinking, can salvage the situation within the framework of the constitution. At this end they need to request President Iajuddin to give up his role as the Head of the Caretaker Government and merely be the President. By re-allocating his minders the Army can effectively cut him off form the puppet-master. As the head of the CTG they should request the constitutionally mandated next in line to KM Hassan to take charge and choose his own set of advisors. I believe given the situation over the last few weeks Justice Mahmudul Amin Choudhury as the head of the CTG will be very fair indeed. Also if he chooses a mixture of Advisors from the current (including resigned) and past CTGs then we should have public buy-in. The new CTG can go about in re-shuffling the administration effective so that it has no negative bearing on the fairness of the polls. The Army then can set about reconstituting the Election Commission. If it is headed by a retired bureaucrat who is well versed in the intricacies of the system then a reform of the electoral roles, presiding officers and the election process in general can happen very fast. And free and fair elections be held, say over the next 60 to 90 days.

(Hold on before getting on my case about the constitutional stipulation of voting within 25th January ’07. Mr. Nazim Kamran Choudhury in his commentary (“The Constitution is neither Bible nor play-thing”, Daily Star 5th December 2006 [http://nazimkamranchoudhury.blogspot.com/2006/12/constitution-is-neither-bible-nor-play.html]) argued that this clause is but a small hindrance that should not amount to anything more than a bump in the road. In any case, to look for examples of exceptions being made, one only need to look at the seats vacated during the last Parliament by the deaths of Col (Retd) Akbar Hossain and Khurshid Jahan Haq.)

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