Ninth Bangladesh parliament to open Sunday

January 20th, 2009 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 20 (IANS) Bangladesh’s ninth Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly), elected on Dec 29, is slated to formally open Jan 25 under a radically changed political scenario.The election, ending a two-year rule by a caretaker government, swept to power Sheikh Hasina and her nine-party alliance that won a huge majority, trouncing political rival Khaleda Zia and her four-party alliance of Islamists.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired a cabinet meeting Monday that finalised the address to parliament by President Iajuddin Ahmed. This would be Ahmed’s last address to parliament. A new president is slated to be elected next month.

The cabinet also finalised chairpersons and members of various parliamentary committees.

The new assembly will, for the first time, have two deputy speakers, one of whom would be from the opposition.

Hasina’s offer for this, as also chairmanship of some of the parliamentary committees, was accepted earlier this month by the opposition.

“There might be two posts of deputy speakers in the parliament and making the provision to accommodate one from the opposition will require amendment to the constitution,” Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, also the Awami League spokesman, told New Age newspaper.

Neither side has so far announced names for the constitutional posts. As the ruling party contemplates for more posts of deputy speakers than one in parliament, the opposition will be given its share after the amendment to the constitution.

The Awami League, which polled three-fourths of the parliamentary seats, more than enough to bring about changes in the constitution, has initiated a discussion in the party forum on ways to accommodate the opposition in the parliament with the post of deputy speaker and chairmanships of parliamentary standing committees.

The assembly has 300 members and provision in the constitution for 45 women nominees. Media reports said many women leaders are lobbying for these positions.

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