Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daily Star: Special Law Enforcement Drive

According to a Daily Star article (source), law enforcement agencies will be arresting "outlaws of different parties and groups in 10 southwestern districts."
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies took the decision to arrest the criminals in order to ensure fair election polls "free from the influence of underground politics."
Police sources indicated that some leaders "of major political parties" are directly involved with various criminal groups, including the outlawed parties, in order to establish their political supremacy in the area through vote rigging.

Most of the top criminals are from a variety of outlawed parties and crminal groups including: four factions of the Purba Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), Marxist-Leninist, Janajuddho, Red Flag, and Communist War, the Biplobi Communist Party, New Biplobi Communist Party, Gono Bahini, Gono Mukti Fouz, Banglar Communist Party, Socialist Party, Biplobi Anurag, Chinnamul Communist Party, and the Sarbahara People's March.
According to the sources 845 of the listed cadres are from Khulna, 434 from Jhenidah, 363 from Bagerhat, 360 from Kushtia, 284 from Jessore, 225 from Satkhira, 210 from Chuadanga, 47 each from Meherpur and Narail, and 32 from Magura.

Police sources intimated that a number of "outlaws and criminals" have returned to their localities and are trying to regroup under the shelter of their "political godfathers" ahead of nationwide polls scheduled for 18 December.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Results of the 4 August 2008 Local Elections (1)

The Awami League (AL) won a major victory in the 4 August 2008 city coporation and poursava polls held in what was a dry-run of new electoral processes prior to the 18 December National polls.

The AL won the mayoral post in all four city corporation (CC) elections and 8 of 9 poursava municipal elections.

The Bangladesh National Party (BNP) won only 1 of the 9 poursava municipal elections. However, the BNP did not officially take part in this election.

In Khulna CC the official AL candidate received 51.12% of the vote while the now-former acting mayor, a BNP affliate, received 42.75%.

In the closely fought race in Barisal CC the official AL candidate received 32.51% of the vote while his rival, from the newly floated Progressive Democratic Party, received 32.10%.

The former mayor of Barisal, a BNP-affliated candidate, received 18.35%.

In Rajshahi CC, the AL candidate took 47.06% of the vote while the city's Jubo Dal president (the youth wing of the BNP) took 35.67%.

Finally in Sylhet CC, the AL candidate recieved 61.86% of the votes. While a BNP-affliated candidate, campaigning under the Sammilita Nagorik Committee, received 17.20% of the vote.

In the Poursava elections - the Awami League won small margins in Phulbaria (Mymensingh district) and Golabganj (Sylhet district) with margins of 283 and 1,946 votes respectively. In Shariatpur Sadar (Dhaka) and Manikganj Sadar (Dhaka) the AL received margins of 2,148 and 3,061 votes respectively. The AL won wider victories in Chuadanga Sadar (Khulna), Naohata/Paba (Rajshahi) and Sitakundu (Chittagong) by margins of 7,097, 7,853 and 7,958 votes respectively. The AL's biggest victory came in Sreepur (Gazipur) where the AL candidate beat the leading BNP-affliated candidate by a margin of 10,135 votes.

In its victory the BNP carried Dupchanchia (Bogra) by a margin of 2,209 votes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New name... same goals?

Recently, the Daily Star ran an article on an Islamist group, Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HUJI), and the group's desire to "operate under a new name." According to HUJI, which was banned by the Khaleda Zia-led BNP (and Jaamat-e Islami) government in October 2005, they had actually been dissolved since 1995 and that only Mufti Abdul Hannan and Mufti Abdur Rouf, HUJI's founders and leaders, were involved "in any criminal activities or had any criminal records." Mufti Abdul Hannan was arrested in 2005.

One member of the renamed-group, Islamic Democratic Party, says that "'We are still in a Jihad in the country as we were in the past in Afghanistan against Russia and America. But now we are fighting against evil-education, corruption, and communalism,' Abdul Kuddus, who reportedly claimed to have fought in Afghanistan for 17 years against Russian and American forces, said talking to The Daily Star."

According to the Daily Star the IDP has been formed in 42 districts and all thanas of Dhaka city. Moreover, the IDP has even begun renting offices and "organizing activists" in 300 upazilas across the country - presumably to contest the still TBD national election.

Though the IDP purports that its Jihad is for "rebuilding the country by promoting true democracy." The South Asian Terrorism Portal stated that, since 1992, HUJI's aim has been the conversion of Bangladesh into an "Islamic State" based on Islamic hukumat (rule) by waging war and "killing progressive intellectuals."

The pending election and the results thereafter will tell if the Bangladeshi voting public believes this change of heart on the part of HUJI leadership. Moreover, the results of the election may provide light on whether HUJI's shift is more than cosmetic.

Post-election note (21 June 2009):
The Election Commission did not authorize the/ Islamic Democratic Party to contest the national parliamentary election on 29 December 2008.