October 1 will be Bangladesh's day of reckoning of sorts. For, not only will the day witness the nation renew its mandate, it will also probably mark the peak of a violent election campaign which has already killed scores, and maimed and injured hundreds.
Fanning this fear is the widespread perception that neither the Awami League of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina nor the four-party alliance led by Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (bnp) will accept defeat. Says leading economist Wahiduddin Mahmud: "That's where the biggest problem lies and I'm deeply concerned about what's going to happen after the election."
Such concerns aren't unusual. Allegations of rigging were levelled in the last two elections (1991 and 1996). But such claims were dismissed because of the impartial conduct of the caretaker administrations.
This can't be said of the current caretaker government (ctg) of former chief justice Latifur Rahman, who has been embroiled in controversies because of the way he effected the transfer of several government officials. The Awami League...