While all eyes are on the tumultuous events in Ukraine, there are growing fears that another large country may be about to collapse.
The potential explosive parliamentary elections for Bangladesh in December are set. These elections are vital for Bangladesh’s future as well as for the EU, the wider international community and the EU.
There is a fear that the outcome could lead to more instability in a large country. This is something the West doesn’t want, especially with the Ukraine conflict rumbling along.
The victory of the pro-West and pro-Indian incumbent government will likely see Bangladesh look further Westwards over the next few years.
Although less information is available about how the opposition would pivot in the event it wins, there is a feeling that Bangladesh could lean more towards Russia and China with electoral success for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Although the election will not be until the end of this year, there have already been many demonstrations and violence during what is turning out to be a very tense preelection period.
Last week, the European Parliament sent a delegation from its international affairs committee to Bangladesh because of the violence in this country and the fears of increased disorder in the future. The BNP opposition was urged to reconsider its threats to boycott the elections by the delegation that met with representatives from the ruling Awami Liga party.
Elections must take place no later than 31/12/2015. Bangladesh also has an Election Commission, which is responsible for ensuring free and fair elections. These MEPs believe that this could be a crucial role in determining whether Bangladesh’s democracy will thrive or fail.
The EU and Euro deputies have in the interim urged all parties not to resort to violence.
The United States claims it is closely monitoring developments in Bangladesh. A source close to the European Parliament told this site that there are “real fears about these elections” and how Bangladesh will handle them. There is a big concern that the success of the opposition party could lead to further instability in the country. This is especially true with the war in Ukraine, which is not abating.
Bangladesh is a poor country with a population around 165m. It is also vulnerable to flooding and cyclones.
The country’s $416 million economy is one of the most dynamic in the world. Since its inception, the current Bangladeshi government, which is composed of centre-right political parties and led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made significant progress in many areas. The goal of digitalizing Bangladesh is to achieve key achievements in economic and social development, as well as digitalisation.
There have been significant improvements in the energy sector as well, with the goal of increasing access and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.
The current government has made great efforts to improve Bangladesh’s relations with other countries.
The BNP is the country’s largest opposition party. Khaleda Zia is currently facing corruption charges. Obaidul Quader (Awami League General Secretary) is one of its most vocal critics. Obaidul Quader said: “The BNP won’t participate in the general elections because they (BNP leaders), know that Sheikh Hasina will lead the Awami League to power again. BNP resorts to ill-informed tactics in order to avoid defeat in the election. It is destabilizing the nation.”
On Tuesday 7 March, at least 15 people died and many others were injured when an explosion occurred in Dhaka’s crowded market. Three people were killed in a gas explosion that occurred in Dhaka on Sunday. Seven people died and many were injured in an explosion at an oxygen plant located in southeastern Bangladesh on Saturday.
After her Awami League win, PM Sheikh Hasina was elected to a third term in January 2014. She has promised that the December elections would be free, credible, and fair.
She was also a victim of violence in Bangladesh, which is a major concern for the EU/West. 17 family members have been assassinated throughout the years.
However, she is still supportive of minorities, and strongly supports India, an approach which has earned her the support from the West.
According to a source from the EU based in Brussels, the consensus is that it is important to maintain the status quo in Bangladesh following the elections.
He noted that the country faces many serious issues, including attacks on freedom to press and human rights violations, as well as widespread civil unrest.
The United States called Bangladesh last December to investigate all reports of violence against journalists or human rights activists.
The source said that it was not in the best interest of Bangladesh, another large country to experience the same violent instability as what is happening in Ukraine. The West doesn’t want another Ukraine.
“The international community has real concerns that Bangladesh could pivot to Russia and China if the current Opposition wins December’s elections.”
“Clearly, these elections have a vital importance for the West, including the EU and Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh’s democracy is unique. In Bangladesh’s general elections, 300 members of the unicameral national parliament are elected by voters. These 300 members vote for women to fill fifty of the remaining seats in parliament.
Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh was created in 1971 after the two Pakistani parts were divided by a bitter war that drew in India.
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