Khaleda-led opposition returns to Bangladesh parliament

February 23rd, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeDhaka, Feb 23 (IANS) The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Monday joined the ninth parliament, ending its row of 17 working days with the speaker over seating arrangements in the house.
The party led by two-term former prime minister Khaleda Zia said it was joining the house following an assurance after prolonged negotiations from Speaker Abdul Hamid of “respectable seating arrangements in the House”, Star Online reported.

Its strength depleted after the Dec 29 poll, the 29-member opposition walked out on Jan 28 to protest the new seating order in the front row in parliament.

There was no official word if BNP ally Jamaat-e-Islami would also return. The Jamaat has two members in the lower house.

The development took place a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cautioned against the return of “extra-constitutional means” that had repeatedly impeded damaged democratic institutions in the past.

“We call for cooperation of all to ensure that the democratic process is uninterrupted, and at the same time the people need to guard against any behind-the-scenes plots to harm democracy,” the prime minister said while inaugurating a four-day orientation programme for the newly elected lawmakers.

Somnath Chatterjee, visiting Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament, who addressed the Bangladeshi lawmakers, also stressed the role of the parliamentary opposition.

The opposition was pivotal and hence, maintaining good understanding between the ruling and opposition parties in parliament was key to the success of a democracy.

“In parliamentary democracy, the role of the opposition party is very much important. Democracy works effectively in that system where opposition is strong and careful,” the veteran Indian parliamentarian was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper Monday.

Urging them to draw a line between their public speeches and those in parliament, Chatterjee suggested that members focus on some areas instead of trying to know and speak on every issue.

He also advised his Bangladeshi counterpart to introduce groups of lawmakers on issues like women affairs, children affairs, climate change and water conservation.

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