Sheikh Hasina starts work as Bangladesh PM (Lead)

January 7th, 2009 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 7 (IANS) Bangladesh’s first democratically elected government in over two years got to work Wednesday, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended office after a landslide victory in the Dec 29 poll.She was sworn in as the prime minister Tuesday evening, ending the tenure of a military-backed caretaker government that held office for a week short of two years.

Prior to taking charge at the Prime Minister’s Office, she paid floral tributes at the portrait of her father and the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

She also offered prayers before heading to the National Mausoleum, the memorial to those who died in the freedom movement, at Savar, 20 km outside the capital.

With a military guard in attendance, she placed wreaths at the mausoleum.

On arrival at her office, she was received with flowers, Star Online said.

Hasina had sprung a surprise on her party veterans Tuesday as she named a 32-strong team, dropping almost the entire policy making presidium from the cabinet. Of the 32, as many as 25 are newcomers; 24 of them will hold cabinet rank, while eight will be junior ministers.

The Daily Star website said the secretariat “came to life after nearly two years” when the ministers who were sworn in after Hasina arrived at their offices.

Meanwhile, the Dhaka High Court directed the government “not to arrest or harass” Hasina in two of the graft cases instituted against her by the caretaker government.

These pertain to charges of extortion in clearing projects for Niko and a barge-mounted power plant, when Hasina was in office 1996-2001.

Hasina was jailed for 11 months following filing of these cases.

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