Yunus, Nobel laureate, claims that there is no competitive politics in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Bangladesh is now a one-party state, as the ruling party has eliminated political competition. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pioneer of the microcredit movement in the world, stated this in an interview.

The main opposition party boycotted the January election, which gave Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina her fourth consecutive term. Their leaders were either in jail or exiled before the poll.

Yunus angered Hasina in 2007 with his plan to create a political party. Yunus helped millions of rural poor people escape poverty by giving them small loans, less than $100.

The Nobel laureate of 2006 accused Hasina and her ruling Awami League Party of rampant corruption. She said Bangladesh lacked an authentic political opposition.

Yunus said in his Dhaka office last week that “Bangladesh has no politics left.” Yunus is 83 years old. “There is only one active party that occupies and does everything to get to the elections.”

He said, “They elect their people in many different ways – as independent candidates, as dummy candidates or even as proper candidates. But they all come from the same political party.”

Anisul Huq, the Law Minister, said that he disagreed completely with Yunus.

Huq, who spoke to Reuters on the phone, said that not only he, but also the rest of the population of the country would disagree with his remarks. Huq called the remarks “insults” against the citizens of the nation.

He added that “Democracy in this country is fully functional.”

Yunus, a Nobel-winning economist for his work in microcredit, was forced to leave Grameen Bank by Hasina’s government in 2011. They claimed he had worked past the retirement age.

Hasina is the daughter Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who founded the South Asian nation and was killed along with his entire family in a 1975 army coup. She became Prime Minister for the first time in 1996.

Hasina, Bangladesh’s longest serving prime minister, has been credited for turning the economy around, but critics have accused her of human right violations and suppressing dissent.

The British Foreign Office also condemned “violence and intimidation”.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party called the election a “sham”, demanded its cancellation, Hasina’s resignation, and the formation a non-party impartial government in order to hold another one.

Yunus was sentenced to six months imprisonment by a Bangladeshi court for violating labour laws, which he denies.

Yunus is still facing more than 100 allegations of violations and corruption, which he has dismissed as “very thin, made-up tales”.

Huq said that the allegations against Yunus are false. He added, “He went to the highest court in the country and they found there was a charge against him.”

Huq gave the example of taxes paid by Yunus, after the Supreme Court ruled that he was guilty of tax evasion. He declined to comment on other cases, as they were still under trial.

Yunus’s supporters claim that Hasina’s Government has tried to discredit Yunus because he considered forming a political party called “Citizens’ Power” at one time.

Hasina denied the claim, but in 2011 she called Yunus “a bloodsucker”.

Is it illegal for a citizen try to form a political group? Yunus said he had given up the idea of a political party in just 10 weeks after realizing that he wasn’t suited for politics.

Yunus, however, said that restoring a competitive political environment in Bangladesh would be difficult.

It will be painful to restart because it is completely gone.

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