AL doesn’t have mandate to rule country even for a day

The January 5 elections were a mockery. In no definition of democracy, the elections can be seen as a reflection of the will of people as 154 seats were won without any contest and no more than 5 per cent people actually turned out to vote, says Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, in an interview with Rashed Ahmed Mitul

an10New Age: Democracy is not all about election. But do you think that democracy is possible without elections?
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: A free and fair election is the first condition of an effective democracy. In a democratic state, the country is ruled by the will of the majority of people. An independent judiciary, free and vibrant media and a partisanship-free administration are essential preconditions for an effective democracy. Without free and fair elections, democracy would not be functional.

New Age: How, in your view, elections are related to democracy?
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: In a democracy, free and fair elections at all levels, including local government bodies, are very important and closely related. Elections make it possible to ensure the participation of people in the whole system through integrating their consent.

New Age: The incumbents are now claiming that theirs is a democratically elected government and that they have the people’s mandate for a five-year tenure despite the fact that they had secured 154 seats of the 300-strong parliament before a single vote was cast while some 10-12 per cent of voters went to the polling stations for electing public representatives in sham elections boycotted by the opposition parties. What is your view about the stance of the incumbents?
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: The elections on January 5 were a mockery. In no definition of democracy can this election be seen as a reflection of the will of the people as 154 seats were won without any contest and no more than 5 per cent people actually turned out to vote, where hundreds of centres were voter-less, when the election was boycotted by major political parties and when the election result was not accepted by the nation, as well as the international community.
So in no way can this government be termed an elected government. And they do not have any people’s mandate to rule this country, not even for a day. This is against the basic principle of democracy.

New Age: What are the steps, in your view, that the authorities concerned should take to ensure free, fair and participatory general elections?
an11Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: In the context of our political culture, the election-time government should be neutral and non-partisan in character. A neutral and strong Election Commission for free, fair and participatory elections, with the inclusion of all the political parties, is also very essential. The essence of my view is that there should be a level playing field for free, fair and participatory elections.

New Age: When should you think that the next elections be held?
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: The sooner, the better. Because the present government does not enjoy the mandate of the people and the support of the people.

New Age: What if the incumbents do not agree to the timeline?
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir: There is no question of agreeing. Every moment is important. I repeat that there should be free and fair national elections.

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