The caretaker government of Bangladesh is a form of government system in which the country is ruled by a selected government for an interim period during transition from one government to another, after the completion tenure of the former. As the outgoing government hands over their power, the caretaker government comes into place. The main objective of the caretaker government is to create an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government. The head of the Caretaker government is called the Chief Adviser and is selected by the President, and the Chief Adviser selects the other advisers. The administration is generally distributed between the advisers. The Chief Adviser and the other advisers are committed for their activities to the President
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her government so far had no plan to scrap the caretaker government system despite the “bitter experiences” of the past two years of interim regime.
“We have not thought about changing the system,” she told a press meet at Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York on Monday at the fag end of her nine-day tour of the United States to join the 65th UN General Assembly.
But, she said, there was no denying the fact that “everybody is annoyed with the bitter experience of the past two years of interim regime in the name of the caretaker government.”
Sheikh Hasina added that everything would be done in line with the people’s desire while a parliamentary committee, constituted several months ago to suggest constitutional amendments in line with two landmark Supreme Court judgments declaring illegal the post 1975 military regimes, might have their own observations about the caretaker system.
Asked for her comments about the release of the corruption suspects who were exposed to trial under emergency rules during the past military-backed interim administration, the Prime Minister said they were released under court orders because of technical faults in lodging the cases. “But the Anti-Corruption Commission is working independently, though the main opposition party is out to save them,” she said.
Replying to a question on exposure of perpetrators of 1971 crimes against humanity, Sheikh Hasina said “this is not symbolic trial” as the war criminals would be tried under law following investigations.
“They will be tried under law for which we were elected to power with huge mandate, particularly from youths . . . we staged their symbolic trial through ‘gano adalat’ in early 1990s and now they are being exposed to real trial,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina, however, said the trial of war criminals was a “continued process” like the trial of Second World War criminals which staggered over decades to expose to justice the perpetrators wherever they were found.
The Prime Minister said during the post independence Bangabandhu government 11,000 suspected war criminals were in jail to face the trial while charges were constituted against another 22,000.
But, she said, after the August 15, 1975 carnage, the successive military regime of General Ziaur Rahman freed them under martial law proclamation and scrapped the entire process.
“They returned the citizenship of the people that was scrapped for opposing Bangladesh’s independence, rehabilitated them socially and all these were done by Ziaur Rahman, though he himself was a freedom fighter,” the Premier said.
Replying to another question regarding an old demand of US expatriate Bangladeshis for resuming Biman’s Dhaka-New York flight, the Premier said Bangladesh Biman had placed orders to procure aircraft from Boeing company which were expected to be delivered by 2011.
“Soon after the aircraft are received, the route will be reopened,” she said.
Asked about her government’s plans to ban religion-based politics while the trial of war criminals was underway, she said the two things were separate issues.
“Bangladesh is a secular country . . . but the election commission would decide under law which party was competent to do election politics,” Sheikh Hasina said.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina spoke at a reception at the own building of Bangladesh’s permanent mission, which she had opened last year, where Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Planning Minister Air Vice Marshal (retd) AK Khondaker, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, parliamentary chief whip Vice-Principal Abdus Shahid, among others, joined the reception.
Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr AK Abdul Momen hosted the reception also attended by leading Bangladeshi expatriates in the United Nations alongside the mission staff.
A caretaker government was first introduced in 1990 when three party alliances jointly made a demand for it. It was constitutionalized in 1996 by the Parliament dominated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party. A Caretaker government is headed by a Chief Adviser who enjoys the same power as the regular prime minister of the country except defence matters. The Advisors function as Ministers. Since 1996, the Caretaker government has held the elections of 1996, 2001 and 2008.