Hasina may keep party veterans out of Bangladesh government

January 5th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 5 (IANS) Sheikh Hasina, to be sworn in prime minister of Bangladesh Tuesday, may keep out party veterans and include younger persons and professionals in her government. Former Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) chief and freedom fighter A.K. Khandaker may be the foreign minister in the new government that is scheduled to take office Tuesday, a media report said Monday.

Khandaker, originally with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), fought under the joint India-Bangladesh command that defeated the Pakistani forces in 1971. He became the BAF chief on independence and later, on retirement, served as a diplomat.

The key Home portfolio may go to a woman politician, Sahara Khatun. Another woman, Awami League presidium member Motia Chowdhury may be allotted the Food portfolio, Star Online, web site of The Daily Star newspaper, said quoting unnamed party sources.

Hasina has “nearly readied” the list of her new cabinet Monday, the web site reported, giving details of specific portfolios to some of the likely entrants in the government.

Obaidul Quader Chowdhury may be allotted commerce, Syed Ashraful Islam, the Awami League spokesman may get local government and rural development (LGRD), and Col (retd) Faruk Khan social welfare. Dipu Moni (women affairs) and Abul Maal Abdul Muhit (finance) are the other likely ministers.

Among the junior ministers, Tanjim Ahmed Shohel Taj may be the minister of state for home, Dr Abdur Razzak may get agriculture and Hassan Mahmud the forest and environment ministry.

The veterans likely to be axed are those who were part of the freedom movement in 1971 under Hasina’s father, slain president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Several Awami League veterans such as Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Razzak, Sajeda Chowdhury, Tofail Ahmed, Abdul Jalil and Suranjit Sengupta may be excluded from the new cabinet, different party sources told The Daily Star.

Hasina, also the Awami League chief, discussed formation of the new cabinet with party veteran Zillur Rahman at his Gulshan residence yesterday.

The oath taking ceremony of the prime minister and members of the cabinet will be held at Darbar Hall of Bangabhaban, the presidential palace, at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, it was officially announced.

About 1,000 guests including members of parliament, advisers to the caretaker government, diplomats, senior civil and military officials and eminent citizens have been invited to the function.

Hasina, who announced Zillur Rahman’s candidature for the country’s president, sorted out the issue with her ally, former military ruler, Gen (retd) H.M. Ershad, on Sunday.

Ershad, the longest-serving president (1982-90) had been hopeful of becoming the head of the state as part of an earlier “understanding” with her, but after meeting Hasina he indicated that he had left it to her to take the final decision.

Ershad’s Jatiya Party, part of the Hasina-led alliance, won 27 seats in last Monday’s poll and some of its lawmakers are likely to be inducted as ministers.

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