Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another rigged election?

Did Bangladesh have a free and fair election? Westerners think so...but then they would, wouldn't they?

According to a reliable bureaucratic source, the election of 2001 was rigged in favour of the right-wing Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by the wife of General Zia, against the Awami League. A brilliant mathematical analysis reveals fraud in two out of three elections: "One example concerns an analysis of the last three elections in Bangladesh. The 1991 election showed no strange results. For the 1996 election some 2% of results were problematic. And fully 9% of the results in 2001 failed the test. The 2001 election was fiercely contested. Yet monitors from the Carter Centre and the European Union found the election to be acceptably, if not entirely, free and fair. Tests like Dr. Mebane's one could provide monitors with quantitative estimates of exactly how free and fair an election has been....*" And that's the last thing that western election monitors in banana republics would want!

Johan Perera reported form Sri Lanka that “it seems the ritual of voting in the Third World is not so much for the purpose of democracy, but is rather for the purpose of legitimising stable government.” His observation was based on what had been happening in Sri Lanka’s 2000 elections. “Election observers attached to the local monitoring bodies, People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL) and the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), expressed shock and revulsion at what they saw happening in the Kandy district on the day of the election. They saw armed gangs of 20 to 100 going about from polling station to polling station....The rigging of the election that took place in the Kandy district extended to many other parts of the country. In the election monitoring offices in Colombo, telephone calls and faxes came in a flood from the election observers in the field. They gave detailed accounts of what was happening....In a post-election statement, the Election Commissioner stated that in the context of the conditions that apply in the Third World the election should be considered satisfactory....Unfortunately, it was not only a chastened election commissioner who thought this way. The teams of foreign observers from the European Union and British Parliament seemed to think that way too.”**

* The Economist, February 24 2007, p 82
** Report published in Holiday, Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 20th, 2000, page 4

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