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“Strengthening democratic governance “
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“Strengthening democratic governance “

Naim Ebna Rahman

Bangladesh has the same branches of governance as other countries, but Naim Ebna Rahman, 20, a Correspondent from Dhaka in Bangladesh, notes complexities have endured since 1971. He looks at some of the reasons, and recommends how to strengthen those branches.

After emerging as an independent nation, several military coups from 1975 to 1995 interrupted the smooth running of democratic governance in Bangladesh.

If we flash back to our recent past, in 2006 after the end of the BNP government regime there was no political conciliation among political parties. Eventually a military-backed government clung to power as a caretaker government, which was in place for two years due to the absence of a specific constitutional time frame. The recent 5th January election is still fresh in our minds, which demonstrates another instance of the institutional failure of democratic governance in Bangladesh.

So the question is, why does it fall again and again? The parliament is the supreme body for the legislature of Bangladesh, but is not active to much extent, as much of the time the opposition party boycotts it. Moreover, the election system is not beyond question. Another issue is people elect their representatives for five years, but recent incidents and experiences from our law makers indicate that term may be too long.

Then what is about its executive body? In our existing executive body, the president is the head of the state and presides as the supreme person of the executive branch. As there is parliamentary system in Bangladesh, the Prime Minister oversees all power. The President has to abide by opinions of the prime minister at all times, except when appointing prime minister.

There are number of flaws and drawbacks in the executive branch. The Prime Minister is at the core of all power and he/she can exercise anything what he/she desires literally. So there is huge imbalance of power distribution in the administration system of Bangladesh. On the other hand, too much hierarchy means people do not get proper service and output from government officials.

The judiciary is regarded as the most respected and prestigious institution in any country. Bangladesh’s judiciary was separated from the executive on 1 November, 2007, after a long time of independence under provision article 22 of the constitution. How much independence it is still has is a question to be examined thoroughly. It is said the judiciary is not still independent from the influence of the executive branch of Bangladesh.

What can be solutions for true democratic governance? Proportionate average votes can be counted, and thus the minority also will have voice in parliament. The Prime Minister only can be selected for two terms, so that others can participate. As there is a provision for Ombudsman in our constitution (article 77), it should be activated to ensure transparency and accountability of parliament. Besides, it seems the Prime Minister is burdened with much power and responsibility.  For more accountability, the Prime Minister’s power should be curtailed by amending the constitution and decentralising power.

For public servants, a new unit can be formed for evaluating their performance. Effectiveness, efficiency and economy should be the criteria for the performance evaluation of the bureaucracy. Public private partnerships can be a viable and effective tool to spread services rapidly, and development projects can be implemented under this partnership. Local government should have autonomous power to take decisions, and power should be disseminated by administrative decentralisation. After all, the development model should be ‘bottom to top’ so that services reach people at the door.

The Judiciary Supreme council should be independent. Quality and experience should be the yardstick of appointing judges. The Attorney General is an employee of the government and should maintain professionalism at its best. The President should have impeachment power or supreme Judicial Council should practice this power to impeach the judges. Impeachment power for parliament may increase political interfere in the judiciary, and this will reduce neutrality and independence of the institution.  

The legislature, executive and judiciary are three indispensable branches of governance. They should play ‘check and balance’ roles to each other for effective democratic governance. Strong political commitment and willingness need to be ensured for enjoying long-cherished democratic governance. We have set Vision 2021 for a prosperous and digitalised Bangladesh, and to achieve this goal we will have to act united rather than playing the ‘blame game’ with each other. Democratic governance should be the key tool to reach to our winning line, where a multiparty political system will add brightness. Live long multi-party democracy in Bangladesh!

Reach me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/naimdu12

photo credit: Balancing Stones via photopin (license)

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About me: I am a youth leader and development practitioner who is studying Development Studies at the University of Dhaka, having completed my BBLT-13 graduation programme from BYLC.

I regularly write in different national and international media.  My passion is writing and volunteerism. I aspire to be a change maker who will influence the future.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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