Today was the deadline set by the Awami League for President Iajuddin (also, unconstitutionally, the head of the current Caretaker Government) to demonstrate that the CTG was committed to neutrality. This effectively meant sacking the head of the Electoral Commission MA Aziz, because the Awami League allege that he’s a bent as a dog’s hind leg, and the election won’t be free and fair with him organising it.
Aziz has said he’s not going to resign (constitutionally he’s very difficult to remove) and has the backing of the BNP former government, because they were the guys who got him in the position in the first place.
So now we’re under indefinite strikes, until someone compromises. This could mean that it will get really violent and then (hopefully for the Awami League) Aziz will be forced to resign because of the pressure. Alternatively it might get really violent and the general people will turn against the Awami League for bringing the country to a standstill, and start supporting the BNP more. Or, it won’t get violent, the Awami League will be forced to give up the siege of Dhaka, and then they might pull out of the election. Or, worst-case scenario, it will get really violent, no-one will back down, and the military will move in.
Basically, things aren’t looking good. The one scenario that seems unlikely is that Aziz will resign and everything will come back to normal without any bloodshed.
So we’re all ‘grounded’ in our homes until the situation improves. I’m not really supposed to even come out and use the interne. I’m obviously not in Dhaka now, because I’m locked in the stable, so it’s frustrating to not really know what’s happening.
However, I can hear some protests starting through distant loudspeakers, so best get a move on. And in case you’re interested, this is what the leader of the Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, has to say about it all:
‘The blockade will continue for an indefinite period, in fact until our demands for reconstitution of the Election Commission and changes in the civil administration are met,’ said the AL president, Sheikh Hasina, at a press conference at her Dhanmondi office on Saturday evening.
She, however, said the alliance would lift the blockade ‘the moment the caretaker government accepts the demands, particularly if the chief election commissioner, MA Aziz, resigns’.
Asked whether her party activists would carry sticks and oars, a decision criticised by some quarters including foreign diplomats, the former prime minister said: ‘Certainly there will be sticks and oars…How do you row a boat without an oar?”