45 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/jawpglob45 and id is 1 raw text is: 

ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)                                                       I
Vol.45,i2016                                                                                      lSE

       Military Take over by General Ershad and Constitutional

       Amendment in Bangladesh: A Modest Politico-Legal Study

                                        Dr. Md. Morshedul Islam
                Associate Professor, Department of Law, University of Raj shahi, Bangladesh

General H.M.Ershad grabbed state power by military coup. He prolonged his reign by introducing self style
democracy. In doing so he tried his best to create a better image by resorting to different people oriented
activities. But his political ambition faced huge challenge from the opposition. The regime succeeded to
manipulate opposition movement and persuade all political parties except BNP to take part in third parliamentary
polls and thus managed to gain constitutional sanction of her reign. But the regime did never get any approval
and sympathy from BNP led by Khaleda Zia. This article is intended to show the process of confidence building
of the regime, how political motives were injected through its programs, how did it manipulate opposition
movement and attain recognition of its actions.
Keywords: Martial law, Democratic Rule, Opposition Movement, Dialogue, Election, Neutral Government,
Political Alliance.

1. Introduction
That the spirit of liberation war i.e., exploitation free democratic society based on equality and justice denied
during the first civilian government under the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was felt under the
reign of Ziaur Rahman in Bangladesh. The exploration of this spirit of liberation war was fumbled by the sudden
assassination of President Ziaur Rahman on May 30, 1981. With the emergence of General H. M. Ershad in the
saddle of power the short journey of infant democracy halted in Bangladesh on March 24, 1982. In spite of
taking state power by bloodless coup, military government of H.M. Ershad did a lot for the up-lift of common
people in order to make his place in their hearts. People oriented activities of the military regime received
appreciation in civil society as well as grass root people but enchained democratic atmosphere blurred that
achievement. The movement for the restoration of democratic rle led by Begum Khaleda Zia, widow of
President Zia and chairperson of BNP, created stiff and die-hard opposition for the regime. Though the regime
succeeded to broker a deal with other opposition parties- Awami League(Hasina) and Jamaat, and thus managed
to create elected Parliament and President for the sanction of her illegal rule yet charismatic and
uncompromising leadership of Khaleda Zia alone, undoubtedly kept the rule of military junta uncertain and
vulnerable throughout her reign.

1.1 Military take over
Military take over is not unusual in underdeveloped and developing countries. Lack of experience as well as
efficiency in running post colonial administration, ignorance of democratic norms and values by political
leadership, exorbitant corruption and lawlessness pave the way for military takeover. Bangladesh is no exception
to that. Immediately after the brutal assassination of elected President Ziaur Rahman on May 30, 1981,
corruption in government and lawlessness across the country surfaced in such a way that the then political
government leant towards the army for its survival. Observing the weakness of the political government Army
Chief of Staff H.M. Ershad injected some of its ideas into top guns of the government as well as leader based
political parties. Consequently in the pressure of Army Chief of Staff Lt. General H.M. Ershad and leaders of
small political parties, government formed 11-member National Security Council (NSC) with Chief of Army,
Navy and Air forces in order to ensure the participation of armed forces in socio-economic development of the
country on January 1, 1982. Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad took over state power by sword by ousting democratically
elected President Justice Abdus Sattar on March 24, 1982 with a view to realize the duties assigned to NSC.1
         Though military takeover by H.M. Ershad was illegal yet his action was appreciated by ousted
President Justice Abdus Sattar in a nationwide radio speech on March 25, 1982.2 It was not clear why ousted
President Abdus Sattar supported military takeover by CMLA Ershad. He might have been forced to do that by
the military government. However, in order to legalise his taking over of state power General H.M.Ershad
played different cards and took some extraordinary people oriented programmes within his first four years in

1 The Bangladesh Observer, March 25, 1982
2 Ibid, March 26, 1982

Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization


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