Foreign interference in Bangladesh politics: past, present and future

Foreign interference in Bangladesh politics: past, present and future

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It is reported that the mediators had assured Khaleda Zia that if she acceded to the opposition’s demand and resigned, there would be international pressure to ensure that she or her party would not be elected after her resignation and even after the elections. Will not have to face any kind of unjust oppression.

Foreign involvement resurfaced in July 2001. Former US President Jimmy Carter came to Bangladesh on a six-day visit, but he failed to build trust between the two sides. According to a report published on 21 March 2006 in a weekly, when the BNP was in power, opposition leader Sheikh Hasina made 55 complaints to 50 diplomats.

Almost everyone knows about the much-discussed diplomatic efforts in late 2006. Concerned about the political crisis, diplomats started holding talks with leaders of Awami League, BNP and other parties. The main initiators were US Ambassador Patricia Butenis, British High Commissioner Anwar Hussain and UNDP Resident Director Renata Lok-Dessalien.

Interestingly, from October 2006 to January 11, 2007, no one called these initiatives of diplomats as ‘interference in internal politics’. On the contrary, both prominent leaders and leaders of their parties welcomed these initiatives. There are two examples that can be cited. The first is Sheikh Hasina’s proposal to hold elections under the supervision of the United Nations. Hasina had made this request by writing a letter in December 2006.

According to WikiLeaks sources, on 7 January 2007, the US Embassy in Dhaka sent a cable to Washington stating that Sheikh Hasina had told the US ambassador that she agreed to direct elections under the UN.

In another example, diplomats met Awami League leaders at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner on the afternoon of January 11. He said there that his efforts had failed. That same night, upon military intervention, a new caretaker government was established. It was later alleged that the military had seized power after intervention by diplomats.

The chapter that began with the military intervention in January 2007 ended with elections in December 2008. In hindsight, while foreign powers had no role in this, the biography of former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, ‘Alliance Years 1996-2012’ (published 2017) shows that he promised the then Army Chief Moeen U Ahmed Had said that if Awami League came to power then they would not face any reaction.

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