Monday, May 22, 2006

Yesterday's photos

The two pictures below were yesterday's visits. The Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Communist Party reviewed the prospects for the elections at the end of the year. The caretaker government which takes over for the period of the campaign, and the Electoral Commission, are supposed to be neutral, but the government of Khaleda Zia has arranged for both to be headed by staunch supporters of her BNP. Since the Electoral Commission appoints the District Officers who are in charge of registration and polling arrangements, and the head of the caretaker government controls the army and police, there cannot be free and fair elections. During June both the EU and the Commonwealth Secretariat are sending pre-assessment missions to Bangladesh, and no doubt they will urge the importance of state non-partisanship in the election machinery. But with the government and opposition not taking to one another - because the Awami League, the main opposition party, refuses to attend any meeting at which the Jamaat-e-Islami, the government's coalition partners, are present - it isn't easy to see how progress can be made towards the reforms that are needed, and time is rubbing out.

In the afternoon, Nasim Bajwa and his wife came round and we had a good chat. He reminded me of the occasion when we had gone to the Pakistan TV studios for what was supposed to be a one-on-one interview, and the interviewer had failed to appear! Nasim had stepped into the breach, and although he had never done any broadcasting interviewing before in his life, the programme was a great success.

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