Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said the institutions meant for protecting democracy have been continuously weakened since the 10th national parliamentary elections.

In consequence, Bangladesh could not reach the a favourable spot in its democratic trajectory even after 50 years of its independence. The big challenge now is to make the upcoming parliamentary elections credible and inclusive. 

The anti-graft watchdog came up with the assessment at a virtual press conference, marking the international day of democracy which is being celebrated across the globe on Thursday.  

Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, said democracy is facing challenges globally. There have been opportunities for democratic advancement in Bangladesh, but those remain untapped due to different sorts of setbacks.

A party established its monopoly in the political arena through the last two national polls. A question will remain there about the credibility of the upcoming elections if the important political parties do not join it, he added.

The TIB boss observed that the role of the administration and the law enforcement agencies was not neutral during the last two national elections.

He said an outline on the election-time government should be finalised and it must be impartial and free from the conflict of interest, no matter what its name is.

Besides, the provision that permitted ex-officio election by the ministers and lawmakers need to be revoked. 

TIB thinks the election commission’s decision on using electronic voting machines (EVM) did not reflect the public opinion. The EC should critically analyse the risks as well as the benefits of using EVMs from political, technical and economic aspects. 

Noting that an imposed action plan will not bear fruit, he said adding the roadmap placed by the election commission should be considered as a draft, which will be finalised through consultation with stakeholders.