Government

The republic of Bangladesh has a non-executive president as its head of state. The president is elected by the national parliament for a five-year term.

Executive power resides in the prime minister who heads a council of ministers (cabinet). Although the president appoints members of the cabinet and the judiciary and has the power to dissolve parliament, the advice of the prime minister must be sought for all presidential acts.

The prime minister is appointed by the president as the member of parliament who is most likely to command a majority.

The unicameral parliament (the House of the Nation) has 300 members elected by universal adult franchise for a term of five years. An additional 50 seats are reserved for women who are appointed by the parties in proportion to the elected members. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

The Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment (1996) requires a non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee the election process.

The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, a nationwide system of criminal and civil courts, and magistrates’ courts in the major cities.

The Supreme Court comprises the Appeallate Division and the High Court Division. The seat of the Supreme Court is the capital, but sessions of the High Court Division may be held elsewhere. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president.

In May 2007 the caretaker government created special courts to adjudicate in high-profile corruption cases.

In November 2007 the caretaker government declared the independence of the judiciary from the executive. Although a directive to this effect had been issued by the Supreme Court eight years previously, its implementation had been successfully obstructed by previous elected governments.

Local governance is by village and district councils. The powers of local government bodies include the power to impose taxes for local purposes.