MonitorsPublished on Jun 30, 2008
Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, Dr. ATM Shamsul Huda, on June 30th announced that the national parliamentary election would be held in the third week of December this year.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 26

< class="maroontitle">Elections in December

Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, Dr. ATM Shamsul Huda, on June 30th announced that the national parliamentary election would be held in the third week of December this year. The final date will be declared once Election Commission completed the final voter list revision. . The political parties, and people, however, remained skeptical about the electoral announcement. Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP)   which has been pressing the military caretaker government to release its leadser Khaleda Zia and her two sons, doubted whether the announcement would lead to a democratic transition. Awami League (AL)  also expressed its doubt about the government’s intention. These doubts have only heightened the sense of anxiety and doubts about the military government’s intentions to restore democracy in Bangladesh.

< class="maroontitle">Operations in Khyber

With a lot of sound, and fury, the Gillani government finally decided to meet the Taliban threat on its homeland squarely last week. At least that was how the operations in Kbyber Agency was projected to the outside world. The truth was far from it. The Army chose not to go in but pushed in about 5000 Frontier Corps men and officers, who have, on and off surrendered or fled the battle scene in the past. So when FC moved in, it brought along a guy called Haji Inamdar, the local Taliban leader who has a running feud with another chieftain, Mengal Bagh, a truck cleaner who found jehad more lucrative than hard labour. In fact, the Army’s standard policy has been to `befriend` some Taliban chieftains while targeting those who are not amenable to its diktats.  Inamdar was, in fact, riding one of the FC trucks, pointing out his rival’s hideouts which had obviously been abandoned as Mengal too have his informers in the force. In fact, before the troopers went into Khyber Agency, many of the men and their supporters who they were hunting escaped to the nearby Tirah Valley, a Taliban sanctuary. No one was killed nor anyone captured during the operation which was declared to be ``successful` by Prime Minister Gillani.

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Army on the offensive

Sri Lanka Army seems to be upbeat over the string of recent success in operations against LTTE. Army Chief Sarath Fonseka told the media last week that all the surviving LTTE members would be killed or captured by  mid-2009 as “their main aim is to capture the entire island and wipe off the majority Sinhala community”  In a related development, Karuna, chief of the rebel group-turned–political party Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), who returned to Sri Lanka after spending nine months in a British jail, too agreed with the Army Chief’s calculations and told BBC that LTTE had lost its strength and influence in the face of a continuous military offensive. But, he cautioned,  it will take some more months for the security forces to defeat them decisively. In Colombo, the military’s aggressive pursuit of its agenda was reflected in the door-to-door investigations of Tamils. Nearly 800 Tamils living in capital Colombo were woken up  and video taped individually. India, however, remained skeptical about the security situation in the island nation and decided to rely on its own security cover for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the upcoming 15th Saarc summit.
< class="maroontitle">CA meeting disrupted

The parliamentary meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA) was continuously disrupted by the three Terai based Madhesi parties demanding  “One Madhes Province’ and recruitment of Madhesis into Nepal Army. The Terai parties, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Terai Madhesh Democratic Party and Sadbhawana Party,  opposing the amendment, continued with their protest alleging that the supplementary Bill did not meet their demands.  Earlier, the three major parties – Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) brought an amendment to the Constitution to address the demands of the Terai parties including other ethnic groups after they failed to reach a consensus on the Madhesi issues. According to the draft Bill, the demarcation of federal units will be done by the proposed State Restructuring Commission as per the agreements reached with various groups including Madhesi parties this February.

< class="maroontitle">Political travails

Maldivian Information Minister Mohammed Nasheed lamented the coincidence in timings of the government’s term coming to an end and the finalization of the new Constitution. He said to realize the full benefits of the new Constitution at least 40 to 50 Bills have to be passed by the Maldivian Majlis which was ot possible as the country was on the verge of conducting the three most important elections-- Presidential, Parliamentary and the Atoll Council elections.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s troubles increased when another of his parliamentarian resigned from the party, the  fourth this year bringing down the number of MDP parliamentarians from nine to five. The party has lost its support in the south which was earlier its stronghold. Its membership from the North and Male, however, has increased.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                  – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                    – Pakistan


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