Effective talks key to averting crisis, national humiliation
THE exceedingly pugnacious postures taken by the ruling alliance—as manifested in the prime minister’s August 18 assertion that she ‘will not budge an inch from the constitution’—and the opposition combine—as evidenced by the August 19 warning from the leader of the opposition that ‘they [the incumbents] would be blown away by stormy winds of movement’—over the composition of the election-time government appear to have touched off a sense of unease, if not downright fear, across society about the possibility of an imminent political crisis. Although the opposition still appears inclined to a negotiated resolution of the ongoing impasse, its patience could very well be on the wane for want of reciprocity from the incumbents. There are reasons to believe that the incumbents’ intransigence stems from their sense of unease, if not insecurity, over the apparent erosion of their popularity, as evidenced in the resounding defeats of their preferred candidates in the recent mayoral elections. On the contrary, the results of the mayoral elections have clearly been a shot in the arm for the opposition, which appears increasingly confident of victory in the upcoming general elections, if held under a non-party administration, and is thus highly likely to resist the AL plan to have the upcoming polls under its partisan control.
Meanwhile, the apprehension of an impending political crisis seems to have spread beyond the national boundary into the international arena, so suggests an increasingly intense persuasion campaign by the diplomatic corps in Bangladesh to bring the power-contending parties across the table and resolve their differences on the formation and composition of election-time government. While it amounts to interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, such concern is understandable; after all, in an increasingly interconnected world, political crisis in a ‘developing’ country like Bangladesh is bound to have a ripple effect in the ‘developed’ countries and vice versa. As such, the plea last week over telephone by the United Nations secretary to prime minister Sheikh Hasina and leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia, in that order, for a negotiated settlement of the ongoing dispute over the mode of an election-time government is hardly surprising.
Intriguingly, but not quite surprisingly, both the ruling and opposition camps have seemingly been at pains to justify the telephonic conversations between the UN secretary general and the two top leaders, and also the articulation of concern by several diplomats stationed in Dhaka, over the ongoing political impasse. For example, a senior AL leader was quoted in a report published in New Age on Monday saying that ‘it should not be seen as interference in the local politics’ while a Bangladesh Nationalist Party stalwart sought to find endorsement by the UN secretary general and foreign diplomats for the opposition’s stance on a non-party election-time government. Suffice to say, it is the failure of the mainstream political parties to peacefully sort out their differences that pave the way for the international community to intervene in the local political process for, in its words, safeguarding regional and global peace and stability. This is embarrassing for people at large.
Given that the opposition is still willing to engage in a dialogue, the onus is on the incumbents to make serious and sincere efforts to bring it across the table and resolve the differences over the issue at hand, which would not only help the nation avert a serious political crisis but also save its face in the comity of nations.
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