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Bangladesh PM's "polls-time all-party interim cabinet" misses main opposition

English.news.cn   2013-11-18 19:42:25            

By Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Despite the main opposition alliance 's threat to boycott elections, Bangladesh's "disputed" polls-time cabinet was sworn in the President House here Monday evening.

Six new ministers and two state ministers have been sworn in following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's cabinet reshuffle to pave the way for formation of the polls-time cabinet.

The portfolio of the cabinet members are not available yet.

All the new ministers and state ministers are lawmakers from the Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party-led grand alliance including ex-Bangladeshi President Hussein Muhammad Ershad's Jatiya Party.

Bangladesh's President Abdul Hamid administered the oath to the new ministers -- Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed of AL, Rashed Khan Menon of Workers Party and Anisul Islam Mahmud, Ruhul Amin Hawlader and Rawshan Ershad and two state ministers -- Mujibul Haque Chunnu and Salma Islam of Jatiya Party (JP), in two batches.

Bangladesh's ruling coalition has initiated its moves to form the "polls-time all-party interim cabinet" in line with a Hasina's proposal which she placed during her address to the nation last month.

Ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party ( BNP) and its 17 alliance have already rejected Hasina's all-party polls-time government proposal.

Khaleda has asked Hasina's Bangladesh AL party to bring back a caretaker system, or else it won't participate in the next polls because it fears an election without the caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Bangladesh's government ministers on Nov. 11 submitted their resignation letters to Prime Minister Hasina ahead of the cabinet reshuffle as part of the formation of an "all-party interim government" to conduct the parliament polls slated for early 2014.

At the cabinet meeting on Nov. 5, all ministers reportedly decided that they would resign in the next seven days to pave the way for the formation of the all-party polls-time government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The parliament is due to expire on Jan. 24 next year and elections reportedly should be held within 90 days before its expiry.

Earlier in the day, Ershad'JP announced that it quits the AL- led grand alliance but said it would join the polls-time cabinet.

Former military strongman Ershad, who ruled the South Asian nation for nearly nine years from 1982 to 1990, made the formal announcement at a press briefing Monday and urged BNP to sit for a dialogue to resolve the prevailing political impasse and participate in the upcoming general elections.

Rizvi Ahmed, senior BNP spokesman, said Hasina's AL government is hatching conspiracy to hold a unilateral poll under a "so- called all-party government".

In protest against the formation of the cabinet, BNP staged a black-flag procession at all divisional cities including the capital, and the district Monday.

The South Asian country's two arch rivals, who alternately ruled Bangladesh for more than the last couple of decades, held phone talks on Oct. 26, the first direct conversation between the two leaders since January, 2009, when Hasina cabinet took oath of office.

Although both the parties are seeking dialogue to end impasse over the formation of the polls-time government, no headway is being made so far.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal Sunday met both Hasina and Khaleda as part of her government's effort to engage the two rivals in talks and end the political stalemate.

The visiting U.S. official reportedly told both the Begums that the U.S. wants a free, fair and credible election in Bangladesh for stronger democratic rule, stability and socio-economic development in the days ahead.

China had earlier expressed its worry over Bangladesh political brawl.

In a statement issued last week, Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jun said "The same as Bangladesh people, I am deeply worried about the recent development of the political situation."

"I hope that the two prominent political parties would take concrete efforts to signal each other good wills, and to reestablish people's confidence in resolving the differences through dialogue,"he was quoted as saying in the statement.

"Political tension in Bangladesh heightened in December after the 18-party opposition alliance geared up anti-government agitation programs, demanding restoration of the non-party caretaker government system.

Since June 2011 when Bangladesh Parliament abolished the non- party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP- led alliance has been waging mass protests demanding for the reinstatement of the provision.

The scrapped provision mandated an elected government to transfer power to an unelected non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee a new parliamentary election on the completion of its term.

Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its 17 allies, including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, have enforced the third long strike in a series since last Sunday morning which lasted for 84 hours, demanding a non-party government to oversee elections.

Dozen of people including the ruling and the opposition party men were dead and hundreds others injured in stray incidents of hartal violence in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country in the last couple of weeks.

Political analysts have long been telling that there is no alternative but to reach consensus over the caretaker issue to avoid further serious confrontation.

The South Asian nation plunged into a major political crisis in late 2006 and it returned to democracy after two years of army- backed rule following a widely acceptable parliament election in 2008 under caretaker government.

Since 1996, the caretaker government in the South Asian country has held elections in 1996, 2001 and 2008, which were recognized as free and fair by local and international observers.

Related:

Bangladesh ministers resign en masse to help formation of controversial polls-time cabinet

DHAKA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's government ministers have submitted their resignation letters to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ahead of the cabinet reshuffle as part of the formation of an all-party interim government to conduct the parliament polls slated for early 2014. Full story

Editor: chengyang
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