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Bangladesh's caretaker gov't bound to end two-year rule
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14:45, December 28, 2008

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Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of the current Bangladeshi caretaker government, will wrap up his two-year rule early next month after the parliament elections and establishment of a new elected government.

Ahmed, 68, a former governor of Bangladesh Bank (2001-05), assumed the office of the chief adviser (equivalent to prime minister) of the caretaker government on Jan. 12, 2007 at a critical juncture of the nation with a prime task to put an end to political anarchy that had threatened to sweep the troubled nation and hold free and fair parliament elections.

Just before he took over, the political turmoil over an abortive parliament election supposed to be held on Jan. 22, 2007 engulfed the entire country until President Iajuddin Ahmed promulgated the State of Emergency on Jan. 11, 2007 to cool down the volatile situation.

According to the country's Constitution, a caretaker government is supposed to be in power for three months to hold the elections but the political reality on the ground extended the caretaker government headed by Ahmed for two years.

The caretaker government strengthened the Anti-Corruption Commission. For a country widely perceived as one of the world's most corrupt, the most dramatic aspect of Ahmed's rule is his anti graft campaign.

More than 160 senior politicians, top civil servants and business magnets were arrested on suspicion of graft and other economic crimes.

The anti corruption campaign had also netted former ministers from the two main political parties of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League, including former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina.

The arrest of suspected corrupt politicians and businessmen brought laurels for Ahmed from home and abroad to clean up the corrupt politics.

But, the people in general were apparently disappointed when they saw both the ex-prime ministers and their party heavy weights were released on court bails ahead of the Parliament elections.

Ahmed's caretaker government is seen as reformist government for bringing about dozens of major reforms in the judiciary, administration and financial sectors.

Since he rules the country mainly under state of emergency which was lifted on Dec. 17, 2008, law and order situation is better and calm prevailed in political arena.

One of the striking features of Ahmed's rule is that he finally separated the judiciary from the executive control, a long-cherished aspiration of the people.

In the past many political governments made pledges but did not do it at the end because the political governments tried to influence the judiciary, particularly the lower judiciary in the way of appointment, promotion and transfer of judges.

Ahmed's caretaker government set up a Regulatory Reforms Commission and separated the Election Commission from the control of the Prime Minister's office.

Preparation of a digital voter list of more than 81 million voters and national Identity Cards with the help of the army and donor countries within a short period are seen as a milestone of his rule.

Ahmed's caretaker government strongly handled the issue of terrorism and hanged to death nearly a dozen top leaders of banned Islamic outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) responsible for simultaneous bomb explosion in the country's 63 out of 64 districts on Aug. 17, 2005.

The caretaker government successfully tackled the aftermath of two successive floods and Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and earned fame.

The Bangladesh army played an important role in facing the challenges posed by the natural disasters.

Although Ahmed has many success stories to his credit, but his government is blamed for unprecedented price-hike of rice and other essential items and economic slowdown.

Ahmed took over power with huge popular support but steps down with declining popularity because of price-hike, unemployment and absence of development activities.

The caretaker government had to import rice and open fair prices hops to stabilize the price. Business was markedly slowed down due to anti-corruption drive. Foreign investment also came down as overseas investors have been waiting for an elected government to run the country.

With only one day before the long-waited 9th Parliamentary election, the two-year rule of the caretaker government is coming to an end. Since taking office, the caretaker government has been promising to organize a fair and free election, now it is the time to see.

Source: Xinhua

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