Country Report Bangladesh January 1996 Main report

Outlook: The prospect for law and order is not good

Against this background, the outlook for law and order during the election and afterwards is poor. Throughout the run-up to the poll there has been a series of opposition-inspired hartals (sit-in strikes) and demonstrations, in a last attempt to force Mrs Zia to step down. The attempt by the Election Commission to crack down on illegal weapons has not been very successful. In the aftermath of the general election, which the EIU expected the BNP to win even if all the opposition parties had contested it, the incoming BNP government can expect that strikes and demonstrations will intensify and, in contrast to its previous position, it will be unable to claim that it defeated the opposition in an open contest. There is thus a real possibility that the new BNP government will not remain in office for the full five-year term, if a solution to the political impasse can be reached with the AL and JP to allow a further election in which all parties agree to participate. However, unless the armed forces intervene, we do not expect the opposition strikes against the government after the election to be any more successful than they were before. So the BNP government will remain in office, although in a rather weakened state.

© 1996 The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved
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