PM Hasina Rules Out Return to Caretaker Government in VoA Interview

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has firmly declared that there will be no return to the repealed caretaker government system. In an interview with the Bangla service of Voice of America (VoA), which aired on Saturday, she emphasized that the constitution has been amended in accordance with a higher court’s verdict, cementing the people’s exclusive right to vote and elect their government.

Prime Minister Hasina, currently on a visit to the United States, addressed various topics during the interview, including US visa sanctions, human rights, Khaleda Zia’s treatment abroad, the caretaker government, the constitution, and other critical issues.

When questioned about the possibility of amending the constitution and forming a caretaker government or engaging in discussions with the opposition alliance, she responded by highlighting the sanctity of elections as a fundamental right. She referred to a significant legal precedent from 2007 when the High Court ruled that an unelected government would never come to power. According to this verdict, power must be transferred to an elected government. The constitution was subsequently amended in accordance with this judicial decision.

Prime Minister Hasina posed a crucial question: “Now, how can we annul the verdict of the High Court? Or amend the constitution? And why will we do that?” She also reminded that Bangladesh’s history has seen martial law, military dictatorships, and farcical elections under caretaker governments, emphasizing the need to uphold democratic principles.

Regarding the stance of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Prime Minister Hasina noted that they were once against the caretaker government. She quoted BNP leader Khaleda Zia, who had previously stated that “no one is neutral other than children and the insane.” The BNP’s shift in position on this matter raises doubts about their intentions.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Hasina pointed out that the caretaker government system was abolished because of the BNP’s attempts to manipulate elections and create a government of their choice through questionable means. Despite their efforts, the people did not support these actions.

Reflecting on the 2008 election held under a caretaker government, Prime Minister Hasina highlighted the violence and crimes committed by the previous administration. She underscored that the BNP-led 20-party alliance performed poorly in the elections, which illustrates their electoral challenges.

Prime Minister Hasina concluded by questioning the sudden demand for a caretaker government and the absence of a clear leadership figure within the opposition. She asserted that Bangladesh is currently in a stable condition and has achieved the status of a developing country, thanks to the efforts made after the 2008 national election. In her view, an elected government is essential for the continued progress of the nation.