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Democracy not static, but an ‘ongoing process,’ Bangladeshi leader tells UN

Democracy not static, but an ‘ongoing process,’ Bangladeshi leader tells UN

The leader of Bangladesh told the General Assembly today that democracy is a “dynamic and continual” process and that the international community can learn from the South Asian nation’s efforts at consolidating stability.

Elections were scheduled in Bangladesh in late January, but following political violence, a state of emergency was declared that month. Since then, the country has been run by a non-party caretaker Government.

“We have learned that democracy is not an event, it is an ongoing process,” Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed said at the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate. “It is not just about casting votes and changing governments; it is about social justice, accountability and empowerment of the people.”

Bangladesh has long been plagued by corruption which has severely undermined democracy. Corruption spawned a “winner-takes-all electoral system where the spoils of electoral victory were so great and the stakes of winning so high that the political process became hopelessly polarized, leading to a paralysis in even ordinary governance,” he noted.

To allow the nation’s democratic spirit to flourish, “we must first free our politics from the clutches of corruption and violence,” he added.

The challenges – political violence, poor governance and corruption – Bangladesh faces are not unique to developing countries, Mr. Ahmed pointed out, since in such nations, especially post-conflict ones, “democracy does not necessarily ensure good governance.”

Therefore, the international community needs to deepen its understanding of both the problems and the efforts of the developing world to rebuild their political and social institutions.