Bangladesh MPs take oath, new government next week

January 3rd, 2009 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 3 (IANS) With newly-elected members of parliament taking oath Saturday, the process of ushering in a democratic government in Bangladesh has begun after a gap of nearly two years.Sheikh Hasina, who led her Awami League (AL) and a nine-party alliance to a landslide victory in last Monday’s poll, will be invited to be the prime minister by President Iajuddin Ahmed once the alliance members, likely to meet late Saturday, write to him after electing her as the parliamentary party leader.

Hasina was earlier prime minister from 1996 to 2001.

She reiterated to a UN delegation Friday that she would invite her arch rival Begum Khaleda Zia to nominate someone from the opposition to be the deputy speaker, the New Age newspaper reported.

Hasina said she would “do everything possible” to ensure the opposition’s cooperation and end the past record of what she called “politics of hatred”, where the loser boycotts the parliament and takes to the streets.

While registering a protest against what she calls “stage managed election” and alleging rigging, Zia has indicated that she might cooperate.

Khandaker Delwar Hossain, secretary general of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), said: “If the treasury bench acts properly and shows proper attitude towards the opposition, a small opposition would not face any trouble.”

Stressing the need for a change in “political culture and behaviour”, Hossain said:
“We should discontinue with the trend of not even seeing the face of the people of differing opinions”.

Speculation has now begun about the country’s next president to be elected later this year.

The AL has indicated that it would like party veteran Mohammed Zillur Rahman, its acting chief when Hasina was in jail and abroad for medical treatment, for the post.

However, the country’s longest-serving president Hossain Mohammed Ershad, a Hasina ally whose party won 27 seats, may throw his hat in the ring, thanks to a reported “understanding” with Hasina.

Ershad,, who ruled between 1982 and 1990, had reached a similar pact with Zia as well in 2006, till he switched sides. He skirted questions on this issue but pointed to a pact under which some of the 27 lawmakers of his Jatiya Party (JP) would join the Hasina government, The Daily Star said.

This would be Bangladesh’s first popular government after Zia quit in October 2006. the intervening period saw cancellation of the election in January 2007 and a massive anti-graft drive by the military-backed government.

Hasina has said she would continue with the reforms initiated by the outgoing government but it would be for the ninth parliament to decide on their legality.

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