Triumphant Hasina takes oath as Bangladesh PM (Second Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 6 (IANS) Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League (AL), the daughter of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was Tuesday sworn-in prime minister for a second time following her landslide victory in last month’s general election. She was premier previously 1996-2001. Hasina, 61, took the oath of office from President Iajuddin Ahmed at a ceremony held at 6.45 p.m. at Darbar Hall in Bangabhavan, the presidential palace. She is the 12th prime minister.

A 32-strong Council of Ministers with 23 cabinet ministers and the rest ministers of state followed her in the ceremony.

The AL-led nine-party Grand Alliance won 259 of the 299 seats in Bangladesh’s ninth general election. The AL alone bagged 230 seats.

The poll left Hasina’s main rival Begum Khaleda Zia with only 29 seats and Zia’s Islamist ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) with two. There were four Independent winners.

The country has a 300-seat parliament. Polling for one was postponed due to the death of a candidate.

Zia and her key associates did not attend the sweatring-in of Hasina. Zia sent a five-member delegation to the oath-taking ceremony.

Hasina’s ministers who were sworn in at the ceremony are: Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, Motia Chowdhury, Air Vice-Marshal (retd) A.K. Khandker, Abdul Latif Siddiqui, Shafique Ahmed, Shahara Khatun, Syed Ashraful Islam, Rezaul Karim Hira, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Abul Kalam Azad, Dipu Moni, Afsarul Amin, Abdur Razzak, Syed Abul Hossain, Col (retd) Farooq Khan, G.M. Quader, Romesh Chandra Sen, Dilip Barua, Raziuddin Raju, Enamul Haque Mostafa Shahid, Nurul Islam Nahid, Abdul Latif Biswas and A.F.M. Ruhul Haque.

The new team that will govern Bangladesh is a mix of the old and the new, but has a significant number of professionals and former bureaucrats.

Missing in the new team are known names and faces of veterans who were part of the freedom movement in 1971 under Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, including Tofael Ahmed, Abdur Razzak and Suranjit Sengupta.

Hasina included representatives of some of the allied parties. However, media reports indicated that AL would retain the major portfolios.

The cabinet ministers sworn-in included Motia Chowdhury, a member of the AL presidium, and Air Vice-marshal (retd) A.K. Khandker, who fought in the 1971 war and became the Bangladesh Air Force chief.

Among the veterans, Abul Maal Abdul Muhit was finance ministrer in the 1980s.

Abdul Latif Siddiqui and advocate Shahara Khatun are among the active AL parliameantarians.

Barrister Shafique Ahmed had handled the graft cases filed against both Hasina and her rival Khaleda Zia during the last two years.

Syed Ashraful Islam has been the AL spokesman.

Rezaul Karim Hira, Engineer Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Dipu Moni, Dr Afsarul Amin, Dr Abdur Razzak and Syed Abul Hossain are among the technocrats included in the government.

Col (retd) Farooq Khan is a former soldier who has been with the AL.

GM Quader is the brother of former president H.M. Ershad, whose Jatiya Party (JP) won 27 seats as part of the nine-party alliance. Hasan Mahmood is another JP nominee inducted as a minister of state.

Dilip Barua represents another ally, Workers’ Party.

Romesh Chandra Sen, an AL veteran, is one of the half-a dozen Hindus, Bangladesh’s second largest religious group, elected to the ninth house.

Dilip Barua, Raziuddin Raju, Enamul Haque Mostafa Shahid, Nurul Islam Nahid, Abdul Latif Biswas and AFM Ruhul Haque were the other ministers sworn-in with cabinet rank.

Among the ministers of state, Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj is the son of Tajuddin Ahmed, prime minister of Bangladesh’s provisional government in 1971.

Western educated and politically tested Dipu Moni tops the list of women given important portfolios, alongside the likes of advocate Sahara Khatun.

The other state ministers who took oath are Mostafizur Rahman, A.B.M. Tajul Islam, Hasan Mahmood, Begum Munnujan Sufian, Dipankar Talukder, Ahad Ali Sarkar and Yafes Osman.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who headed the caretaker govenment that conducted the election and who bid an emotional farewell earlier in the day, was among the VVIPs to attend the ceremony.

The three Services chief - Army Chief General Moeen U. Ahmed, Navy Chief Vice Admiral Sarwar Jahan Nizam, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal S.M. Ziaur Rahman - were present.

Among the notables was Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

A day before being sworn in, Hasina was acquitted by a Dhaka court in a case of corruption instituted against her by the outgoing caretaker government.

Bangladesh’s general election was originally scheduled in January 2007. But it was postponed following promulgation of a state of emergency Jan 11, 2007 in the wake of political violence.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed’s caretaker government, backed by the military, had then taken over the reins of the country.

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