DHAKA, March 30, (Reuter): Bangladesh intellectuals launched a movement today to force President Hossain Mohammad Ershad to set up an interim government and hold fresh elections.
The 31 intellectuals, including former senior government officials, said a caretaker government should be formed with “men of unimpeachable honesty and integrity” and should hold elections because the results of previous polls had been widely disputed.
“Democratic process has been reduced to a farce”, they said in a statement.
Ershad lifted four and half years of military rule and restored civilian government late last year after his election as President in November.
“The prestige of the office of the President and the credibility of the National Assembly has been eroded. The common man has been robbed of his fundamental right of voting”, the statement said.
The group includes a former Supreme Court Chief Justice, former government ministers, ambassadors, university vice-chancellors, lawyers and journalists.
The interim government, they said, would take measures to free politics from violence and keep the armed forces apart from political activities.
In the parliament session that ended last week, some pro government members and those belonging to small opposition groups suggested the constitution should be amended to let the military share political’ power.
Ershad has said the army should be involved in the country’s development activities, Albeit without a specific political role.
“We feel that it would not be beneficial to make it possible for the army to dabble in politics by amending the constitution under any circumstances”, the intellectuals said.
They said Bangladeshis were getting increasingly despondent because of widespread corruption, indiscipline in politics and collapse in the education system.
“The nature and character of civil administration have been distorted because of their subservience to martial law for a long time,” their statement said.
Article extracted from this publication >> April 3, 1987