The Awamiliga regains power
Through 1994, 154 politicians in opposition to the Kaleda
Zia government boycotted parliamentary work to collectively
resign in December. The leader of the Awamil League, Sheikh
Hasina, in 1994-95 led a series of peasant demonstrations
that required the holding of elections under a neutral
administration. At the February 15, 1996 elections, women
voted for the first time in Bangladesh's history. Prime
Minister Kaleda Zia of the BNP retained power, but the
election monitored by the military was considered electoral
fraud. The Awamiliga called for paralysis of the country and
this led to clashes between police and opposition activists.
However, the violence did not stop when Zia had to resign on
March 30. Former Supreme Court Judge Mohammad Habibur Rahman
was inaugurated as interim government leader, until in June
elections could be held again. On June 23, he handed over
the prime minister post to Sheikh Hasina.
Social conflicts continued through 1997 to culminate in
December with a series of strikes organized by opposition
parties in protest of the agreement the government had
signed to end an armed uprising in the southeastern country.
Several days were demonstrated in Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal,
Syleht and Rajsani as well as many smaller towns. Both for
and against the strike. It pretty much paralyzed the
country. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of BD and its meanings of Bangladesh.
In 1998, 15 million people threatened by pollution of
groundwater, which is the main source of drinking water. The
boreholes were contaminated with arsenic. Over the past 20
years, they had been dug under mass mobilization campaigns.
The pollution threatened to further aggravate the situation
of the poorest sectors of the population, in a country where
50% of newborns have too low birth weight.
In November 1999, the Bangladesh Central Bank decided to
revalue the Taka currency by 3% with the stated purpose of
maintaining export competitiveness. The main opposition
party, the Nationalist Party, declared that this step
recommended by the IMF was against the interests of the
population. Not least because of the 16th devaluation since
1996. The month after, the Prime Minister expanded his
government with 9 new ministers to 45 ministers. Hasina
Wajid did not provide more precise justifications for
enlargement but suggested that it provided greater
representativeness in the government for regions that had
hitherto been disadvantaged. However, it did not diminish
the accusations of nepotism, as 3 of the new ministers were
family members of the head of government.
During his March 2000 visit to South Asia, US President
Bill Clinton highlighted Bangladesh's efforts to fight
poverty. It was the first state visit to the region by the
United States in decades, but it was not without problems.
Shortly after his arrival, Clinton determined that this was
"the most dangerous place in the world." A reference to the
tense relations between Pakistan and India and the
separatists' efforts to detach Kashmir from India. Until
1996, partisans had been trained militarily in Bangladesh.
This was confirmed a month later by Interior Minister
Mohammad Nasima, who stated that this military assistance
had been provided by the previous government through a
foreign intelligence organization. Although it was not said,
it was clear that there was talk of Pakistan's intelligence.
In April 2000, two members of the Supreme Court declined
to investigate the appeal of two former officers convicted
of the 1975 assassination of then Prime Minister Sheikh
Mujibur Rahaman, the leader of the country's independence
movement and the father of the country's current prime
minister Hasina Wajid. The two officers were sentenced to
death in 1998. However, before the death sentence can be
executed, the Supreme Court must analyze the judgment and
assess the request for appeal.
In September 2001, the country authorized the United
States to use its airspace, ports and airports for the
invasion of Afghanistan. In November, Secretary of State
Badruddoza Chowdhury traveled to Washington for talks with
US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The United States wanted
to secure Bangladesh '- one of the world's largest Muslim
countries - in its fight against terrorism. Chowdhury, in
turn, hoped to reap financial benefits from this support.
After three days of negotiations in March 2002, senior
diplomats from India and Bangladesh presented plans to
reduce tensions along the 4,000-km-long common border. Among
the measures were joint patrol of the border, and occasional
meetings of military commanders along the border.