Five years of Dr Iajuddin's presidency
Our felicitations to Dr Iajuddin Ahmad on his continuation as President of the Republic on the expiry of his first term on September 5. Constitution allows him to stay in office till the election of a new President, which must await the formation of a new parliament. Therefore he will be in charge of the highest office of the state through a very crucial phase of our national life.
However, we are constrained to say that history will judge him harshly for his controversial role since 28 October last year. He stretched the constitutional provisions to the extent of distorting it, some would even say violating it, to assume charge of the chief adviser to caretaker government in addition to being the President of the country. He virtually circumvented five clauses of Article 58(Ga), including one providing for the choice of an eminent citizen as chief adviser to the caretaker government by consensus of all political parties. In an unprecedented step, Dr Iajuddin invoked clause six of the same constitutional article combining in himself the positions of both President and Chief Adviser. In effect, the caretaker system was hugely discredited. He made the highly controversial statement that in the changed situation, the government has taken on the character of a presidential form. In an authoritarian manner he spurned the package of proposals prepared by ten advisers in consultation with major political parties aimed at resolving the deepening political stalemate. His lack of far sight and sagacity was pronounced.
The simmering state of political confrontation turned for the worse when election date was announced in the face of boycott by opposition parties pushing the country on to a precipice of civil war. In the ensuing turmoil, he was left with no choice but to stand down as chief adviser. Over all, his contribution to the creation of circumstances leading up to the promulgation of emergency cannot be lost sight of.
All said and done, it is our belief though that Dr Iajuddin can redeem himself into his second term. As the head of state during an interim government he has enormous powers. We urge him to exercise such powers in the greater national interest to help ensure a smooth transition to democracy through free, fair and credible elections. As President of the Republic he is the symbol of national unity and cohesion and therefore only expected to play a catalytic role in building harmonious relationship between various parties. Nation looks forward to his rising to the occasion and thereby appear in a better light second time around.