Political Impasse over the Caretaker Government in Bangladesh [pic]
Neha Mehta (Research Assistant, VIF)
The Caretaker Government that was a unique feature of Bangladesh’s democracy was in place over the years to oversee elections in a country that has a history of military coups, political assassinations and electoral fraud. Historically, democracy has struggled in Bangladesh with an unstable political environment that has two main political parties at loggerheads at all times with periods of dictatorships and battling the influence of its army in politics. The decision to do away with the Caretaker Government was taken through the fifteenth amendment to the constitution in mid 2011, following the Supreme Court verdict that declared the thirteenth constitutional amendment illegal. This created quite a furor in the political circles leading to the current political stalemate. Originally, the Caretaker Government system was constitutionally introduced through the thirteenth amendment to the constitution after the three main political parties, the Awami League, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party boycotted the sixth general elections in 1996, to press for the demand of a Caretaker Government to oversee political transition in the country. The thirteenth amendment gave power to an elected government to transfer power to an unelected non-partisan Caretaker Government to oversee new parliamentary election on completion of its term. The system which lasted for 15 years, however held four elections under it viz. in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008. The system was first put in place informally in 1991, at a time of critical political transformation, before it was included in the constitution. The aim was to oversee the election process at a time when military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad was ousted and electoral democracy was restored in Bangladesh as well as to counter any kind of military influence. Currently, the Caretaker Government issue has become one of the main...
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