Caretaker government of Bangladesh

The Caretaker Government of Bangladesh (Bengali: বাংলাদেশের তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকার) was a form of government in which Bangladesh used to be ruled by a selected government for an interim period during the transition from one elected government to another, after the completion of tenure of the former, during the period between 1996 and 2008. The outgoing elected government used to hand over its power to the nonelected nonpartisan caretaker government (CTG).

Top members of the caretaker government did not represent any political party; nor were they allowed to contest the elections. The main objective of the Caretaker Government (CTG) was to create a level playing field environment in which an election could be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence by the outgoing government.

It was not empowered to take any policy decisions unless it was necessary. The head of the Caretaker Government (CTG) was called the Chief Adviser (in place of Prime Minister of Bangladesh) and was selected by the President of Bangladesh. The Chief Adviser selected the other advisers. The top positions of the administration were generally distributed among the advisers. The Chief Adviser and the other advisers were committed for their activities to the President of Bangladesh.

History

In 1990 three party alliances discussed creating a better environment for elections. They jointly made a demand for it. After the forced resignation of General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, the three alliances nominated Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed as the Chief Adviser. The caretaker government was headed by a Chief Adviser, who enjoyed the same power as the regular prime minister of the country except in defence matters. The advisers functioned as ministers.

Since 1996, a Caretaker government has managed the elections and transitions of 1996, 2001 and 2008. Although the first caretaker government (CTG) was intended to help the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, this system was adopted as part of the Constitution in 1996 by the Sixth Parliament. It was dominated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which yielded to opposition pressure.

In Bangladesh, a Caretaker Government (CTG) ruled for the period of 1990 to 1991 with the understanding of the major political party alliances. Later, CTGs were formed within the constitutional framework in 1996, 2001 and 2006. The 13th amendment to the constitution was passed in the parliament formalising this arrangement.

In addition, an extra-constitutional military-backed CTG was installed in 2007; it governed the country without legitimacy, but ultimately handed over power to the elected political party following 29 December 2008 parliamentary election. They were under pressure internationally to yield to a democratically elected government.

According to the provision (before abolishment) of CTG in the Bangladesh Constitution, there were six options to appoint a Chief Advisor (CA). The last option of CA is the President. The CTG had to hold an election within 90 days and in 120 days could hand over power to the duly elected political party. The daily operations of government, routine duties, and holding parliamentary election are the mandated responsibilities of the CTG.

Caretaker Government was very popular in Bangladesh although it was a contradiction with constitution. Recently Pakistan and Greece have also adopted this model to hold elections and overcome political stalemate.[1]

Military backed Caretaker Government and its role

The military-backed Caretaker Government (CTG) was formed outside the constitutional provisions. It performed all responsibilities of the regular elected government and continued for 2 years. Ruling autocratically, the Army chief used to attend the advisory council meetings and pressured the cabinet to make decisions he wanted. Adviser to President, M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, was ousted as he was against the Army's actions.[2]

Later, President Iajuddin Ahmed had to run the presidency at gun point.[2][3] Lt. Gen. Moeen upgraded the Army Chief of Staff's rank to General; to maintain balance the other two military service chiefs were also promoted. Moeen extended the rule of the CTG for two years while his tenure for one year as army chief without lawful authority, in the absence of regular elected government.[3] The senior adviser and minister of state Mukhles Chowdhury tried to solve the political problems. He brought the rival political parties to the planned parliamentary elections of 22 January 2007. But, by cancelling H M Ershad's nomination, Moeen staged a military coup on 11 January 2007.[4]

Mukhles Chowdhury was the de facto President and Prime Minister from 2006 to January 2007. Although strongly criticised by civil, military, political, media and the inner circle of President's office and President's family, a later investigation demonstrated that he had run the government honestly.[2][5] The then PM's political secretary was dead against his induction in the government publicly.[6]

On 11 January 2007 when Mukhles Chowdhury became powerless, Brigadier Fazlul Bari decided to impose a curfew and press censorship with the consent of Major General Masududdin Chowdhury at Advisor's Office. It was promoted[7] as Mukhles Chowdhury's decision by a section of press deliberately. This way the certain quarter worked against democracy and for autocracy openly.[8] According to Moeen's book, Mukhles Chowdhury was the most powerful man in the Presidency. He was offered to be the President and later to be the Chief adviser and finally through Brigadier Bari who went to his office requesting to run the country for two years and arrange trial of alleged corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, media-men etc. However, Chowdhury disagreed with such formula saying democracy must continue with following the system to check corruption.[9]

Mukhles Chowdhury stopped the process of MPO of his father's Technical Institute, approval of sanctioning a government building to that institution and ensured his cousin's arrest for a car accident while was in power.[10] As army group did not do anything to Chowdhury legally, they arranged attack by DGFI, PGR and Army in Dhaka on 26 February 2007 and 7 September 2007 in Dhaka. After one year and three and half months of military takeover, on 11 January 2007, Chowdhury left Bangladesh. He was under attack publicly in New York and in London, including 15 September in London 2008, by Brigadier A. T. M. Amin.[11]

2008 Election

The national election of Bangladesh was held on 29 December 2008 under the Caretaker government formed with Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed as the Chief Adviser on 13 January 2007. This was the third Caretaker government formed after the tenure of the government of prime minister Khaleda Zia ended in October 2006. The Caretaker government of Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed functioned without legislative authority as it continued to function after its scheduled tenure of 120 days ended on 12 May 2007. All decisions taken after this date must be ratified by the parliament for the sake of legitimacy.

The Caretaker government of Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed was a military controlled and has made extensive use of the military to stymie the chaos that preceded 11 January 2007 (popularly known as 1/11, like 9/11). From the very outset however, the government made it clear that they were there not only to arrange a free and fair election, but also to make sure that all aspects that are connected to it are reviewed properly. This meant major reforms in the election system, but also making sure that corrupt candidates could not take part in the election.

The task was however an enormous one, since Bangladesh is regarded as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Therefore, the government had exceeded its mandated term, which according to the constitution allows it to stay only for 90 days.[12]

Reforms

The caretaker government introduced Voter ID cards (with photograph) for the first time just before Bangladeshi general election, 2008. The Bangladesh Army, including members of other military forces, were deployed throughout the nation prior to the elections, including the remotest areas, to assist with voter registration and issuance of the new IDs. They were equipped with laptops and small digital cameras in an effort that would result in the most orderly voters' registration list in Bangladesh's history.

Reactions

Initial reactions of the public were welcoming.[13] The arrests of corrupt prominent politicians in 2007 led many to believe that a new political age was imminent. No new major parties came into the scene. In some cases, former political leaders had been released from prison in 2008 and appeared to be returning to former positions and displacing reformers.

Opponents of the CTG's long tenure had chiefly been of the two major political parties. Members of the public in general understood the reasons and necessity for the government' actions.

The televisions and print media had reported events throughout the term (2007 to 2008). There had been little questioning of the leaders who had been charged with an array of corruption charges, and who were now on the verge of returning to power. Almost all of the television channels are now owned by members from one of the two major parties.[14]

Chief Advisers since 1991

Abolishment of CTG

In 2011 the Bangladesh Awami League led government abolished Caretaker Government through passage of the 15th amendment of the constitution with its majority in Parliament.[15]

Opposition parties, including the BNP, have protested passage of the amendment.[16] People are worried about next elections since the CTG was abolished. Sheikh Hasina has assured the public that parliament will be dissolved if the Court so decides.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ 'টাইমস অব ইন্ডিয়া'কে এরশাদ, পাঁচ বছর অন্তর জনগণ সরকারের পরিবর্তন চায় ['Times of India' Who says, wants to change the government's five-year intervals]. Daily Manab Zamin (in Bengali). 23 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Butenis, Patricia A. (12 January 2007). "Senior Military Official Discusses State of Emergency with Ambassador". WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks cable: 07DHAKA66_a.
  3. ^ a b Faruque, Omar. "Bangladesh is heading towards uncertainty involving the upcoming general elections". PBC24.com. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Google". google.co.uk.
  5. ^ ১/১১ নিয়ে মুখ খুললেন মোখলেস চৌধুরী. Bangladesh Pratidin (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 9 July 2015.
  6. ^ বঙ্গভবনের দিনগুলি – ৫ [President days – 5]. sonarbangladesh.com (Blog) (in Bengali).
  7. ^ ওয়ান ইলেভেন নিয়ে মুখ খুললেন মোখলেস চৌধুরী. Bangladesh Pratidin (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 1 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Mokhles speaks on 1/11 [part 1 of 2]". Daily Sun. Dhaka. 1 August 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Mokhles speaks on 1/11 [part 2 of 2]". Daily Sun. Dhaka. 2 August 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Famous Bangladeshis – By Bangladesh Channel". bangladesh.com.
  11. ^ "Mokhles Chowdhury was threatened by Bangladeshi officer in London". Yahoo! Groups: Promoting the righteous way of life! (Discussion thread). Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  12. ^ সংসদ বহাল রেখে নির্বাচন হবে না: প্রধানমন্ত্রী [Parliamentary elections will be maintained: PM]. BanglaNews24.com (in Bengali). 19 September 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012.
  13. ^ Shamim Ashraf (23 August 2007). "Curfew causes people immense sufferings, journalists assaulted". Spectator (Blog).
  14. ^ "Bangladesh emergency declared, president quits as interim leader". USA Today. Associated Press. 11 January 2007.
  15. ^ Liton, Shakhawat; Hasan, Rashidul (1 July 2011). "Caretaker system abolished". The Daily Star.
  16. ^ "Running Elections in Bangladesh", The Economist, August 2012
  17. ^ সংসদ রেখে নির্বাচন হবে না [The Parliamentary Election Will Not Be]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 19 September 2012. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012.

External links

A. F. Hassan Ariff

A. F. Hassan Ariff is a Bangladeshi lawyer, former Attorney General of Bangladesh and Advisor of Caretaker Government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Anisuzzaman

Anisuzzaman (born 18 February 1937) is a Bangladeshi academic of Bengali literature.

He was an activist who took part in the Language Movement (1952), participated in Mass Uprising (1969), and took part in the War of Liberation (1971).

He was a member of the Planning Commission to the Government of Bangladesh during the Bangladesh liberation war and a member of the National Education Commission set up by the government after liberation. He was inducted as a National Professor by the Government of Bangladesh in 2018.

Anwarul Iqbal

Anwarul Iqbal (1 October 1950 – 15 January 2015) was an adviser of 2007–2009 interim Caretaker Government of Bangladesh. He was appointed as Local Government and Rural Development Minister & Labour Minister of the Non-party Interim Caretaker Government of Bangladesh on 17 January 2007 and remained in that post until a new election was held two years later. Later he was given the charge of Jute & Textile Ministry. He had the responsibility to head three ministries of the government of Bangladesh. He served as the 25th Inspector General of Bangladesh Police. He went into voluntary retirement from the IGP post after he had been made officer on special duty and within few days he took charge as the Adviser of the Caretaker Government headed by Fakhruddin Ahmed during the State of Emergency in Bangladesh which was declared on 11 January 2007.

C. M. Shafi Sami

CM Shafi Sami a Bangladeshi diplomat. He was selected as an adviser of the caretaker government of Bangladesh under President Iajuddin Ahmed and resigned after about a month with three other advisers Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, Akbar Ali Khan and Sultana Kamal, . According to Sheikh Hasina, they failed to discharge their constitutional responsibilities in the name of crackdown on corruption.

Dhiraj Kumar Nath

Dhiraj Kumar Nath (January 9, 1945 – January 5, 2018) was a Bangladeshi diplomat. He was named as an advisor of the interim caretaker government of Bangladesh in October 2006.

Fazlul Haque (judge)

Justice Mohammad Fazlul Haque (Bengali: ম. ফজলুল হক, Fojlul Hoq) (born 1938) is a former High Court judge of Bangladesh served as the advisor of the non-partisan caretaker government of Bangladesh in 2007.

Habibur Rahman Cabinet

The Habibur Rahman Cabinet led the Caretaker government of Bangladesh from 30 March 1996 to 23 June 1996.

Iajuddin Ahmed

Iajuddin Ahmed (1 February 1931 – 10 December 2012) was the President of Bangladesh, serving from 6 September 2002 until 12 February 2008. From late October 2006 to January 2007, he also served as Chief Advisor of the caretaker government. From October 2006 to early 2008, his responsibilities as President included the Defense Ministry of the caretaker government.

With a doctorate in soil science, Ahmed became a full professor at the University of Dhaka and chairman of the department. Beginning in 1991, he started accepting appointments to public positions, as chairman of the Public Service Commission (1991 to 1993) and of the University Grants Commission (1995 to 1999). In 2002 he won election as president. In 2004 he helped establish the private university, Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology (ADUST).

Iajuddin Ahmed Cabinet

The Iajuddin Ahmed Cabinet led the Caretaker government of Bangladesh from 29 October 2006 to 11 January 2007 following the end of term of the Bangladesh National Party administration.

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi career diplomat and former government minister. He is principal research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in the National University of Singapore.

As a senior member of the Bangladesh Foreign Service, he served as Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York (2001–2007) and Geneva (1996–2001). He was also Bangladesh's ambassador to Qatar (1994–1996) and was accredited to Chile, Peru and the Vatican.

He was also an international civil servant, having served as special advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva (2000).

Jamilur Reza Choudhury

Jamilur Reza Choudhury (born 15 November 1943) is a Bangladeshi civil engineer, professor, researcher, and education advocate. He is a former Adviser (Minister) to Caretaker Government of Bangladesh (April–June 1996). He is the vice chancellor of University of Asia Pacific. He is also the president of Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad Committee from 2003. He was awarded Ekushey Padak by the Government of Bangladesh in the category of science and technology in 2017. He was inducted as a National Professor by the Government of Bangladesh in 2018.

Latifur Rahman Cabinet

The Latifur Rahman Cabinet led the Caretaker government of Bangladesh from 15 July 2001 to 10 October 2001.

Mainul Hosein

Mainul Hosein is a Bangladeshi lawyer and the publisher of the daily newspaper The Daily New Nation. He is the former chairman of the editorial board of The Daily Ittefaq, whose building was shelled and completely demolished on 25 March 1971 by Pakistan Army. He served as the law, information and land advisor to the immediate past interim Government of Bangladesh during January 2007 – January 2008.

Rokeya Afzal Rahman

Rokeya Afzal Rahman is a Bangladeshi businesswoman and former adviser of Caretaker government of Bangladesh.

Shegufta Bakht Chaudhuri

Shegufta Bakht Chaudhuri was the fourth Governor of Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh. He served during 1987–1992.

Sultana Kamal

Sultana Kamal is a Bangladeshi lawyer and human rights activist. She serves as the Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra, a civil rights organisation. In 2006, she served as adviser in the Caretaker government of Bangladesh led by President Iajuddin Ahmed during the 2006-2008 Bangladeshi political crisis. Kamal, along with three other advisers, resigned from the caretaker government Her mother Sufia Kamal was a participant of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Syed Manzur Elahi

Syed Manzur Elahi is a prominent businessperson in Bangladesh. He is the chairman of Apex group, a leading business organisation in Bangladesh. He is also the founding chairman of Mutual Trust Bank and Grey Advertising Bangladesh.

Tapan Chowdhury

For the singer, see Tapan Chowdhury (singer).Tapan Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi businessman. On January 14, 2007, he was appointed as one of the advisers for the Caretaker government of Bangladesh under Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed. He resigned from caretaker government on January 8, 2008.

Zillur Rahman Siddiqui

Zillur Rahman Siddiqui (23 February 1928 – 11 November 2014) was a Bangladeshi writer, academic and educationist.

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