Happy to return to barracks, says Bangladesh Army chief

December 17th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 17 (IANS) The Bangladesh Army has proved that it wants nothing to do with power and is “happy to return to the barracks” after emergency is lifted, says its chief Gen. Moin U. Ahmed. The army has proved it wants nothing but the development of Bangladesh, Ahmed said as the caretaker government prepared to lift the emergency curbs after 23 months in preparation for the Dec 29 polls.

Ahmed appeared on several TV channels in an unscheduled briefing Tuesday evening, apparently responding to the “silent suspicion of many who doubted all along that generals were out to grab power, ordering democracy into oblivion”, The Daily Star newspaper said Wednesday.

Bangladesh has had military-run or military-guided governments for 15 of its 37 years. Since January last year, the armed forces have backed the caretaker government of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, a period that saw them actively participate in fighting both militancy and corruption. Over 200,000 people, including former ministers and lawmakers, have been put behind bars.

Recalling the days when political turmoil led to the cancellation of the ninth general election and the imposition of curbs, Ahmed said that in 2006 many people, especially diplomats, asked him when the army would declare martial law.

“But I said Bangladesh Army will not follow any of our neighbours. And we shall not follow any of our predecessors. We will not declare martial law. The problems that developed should be solved politically…That is why we did not step in,” he said.

“The officers and other members of Bangladesh Army love this country with heart and soul. They want Bangladesh’s development,” he added, giving an account of various achievements the armed forces accomplished in last two years.

According to Ahmed, the army came to the aid of the civil administration and it did the jobs given to it by the caretaker government like checking terrorism, recovering illegal arms and preventing drug trafficking.

“The army is now happily returning to the barracks following the government’s decision,” Ahmed said.

The Bangladesh Army has a reputation for sincere work in UN missions, with over 40,000 soldiers currently deployed on various missions.

Ahmed said: “And we hope we shall continue to have the reputation at home and abroad.”

Asked about apprehension that there might be acts of terrorism during the election, he said the army was there to prevent any such thing from happening.

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