Bangladesh may act against ex-chief advisor, army chief

April 19th, 2011 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 19 (IANS) Bangladesh’s parliament has said it would move against a former World Bank economist who ruled Bangladesh for two years, and the army chief who backed him during 2007-08.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, the chief advisor who performed the prime ministerial functions in a caretaker government, and retired General Moeen U. Ahmed have refused to appear before a parliamentary committee.

The committee Monday said it would move against them for “contempt of parliament”.

The parliamentary committee requires them to appear before it and testify to their role in violence in Dhaka University campus in August 2007. They wrote back to say they played no direct role.

The parliamentary committee’s move was backed Monday by main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The party has demanded prosecution of the two for “usurping power”.

Fakhruddin was chief advisor of a caretaker government as per a provision in Bangladesh’s constitution. But instead of the prescribed 90 days’ tenure, he declared a national emergency with the army chief’s help and ruled for over two years.

The national emergency was prompted by weeks of political agitation that had hit the economy during the run-up to a parliamentary poll, which the caretaker government was to conduct.

Alleging bias by the government, an alliance of 14 parties led by Awami League of Sheikh Hasina had boycotted the election.

Hasina, now the prime minister, and and opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia have both been critical of Fakhruddin and Moeen. Hasina and Zia were jailed on graft charges in their regime.

In the election that Fakhruddin and Moeen helped conduct in December 2008, Hasina defeated Zia.

Fakhruddin lives in Dhaka in retirement, while Moeen, who retired as army chief some months later, is in the US and says he is very ill.

Demanding that they be made to appear before parliament, the New Age newspaper said in an editorial Tuesday: “Fakhruddin and his former mentor, General Moeen, have undermined parliament - and, by implication, the sovereignty of the people - by refusing to comply with the parliamentary sub-committee’s summon for them to appear in person before it for deposition.”

“If parliament fails to call the two to account for their non-compliance, it will help set a bad precedent, which is in no way desirable in a state and society that aspire to be democratic and aim to establish democratic accountability,” it added.

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