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New cabinet to be operational in Bangladesh

Publication Date : 11-01-2014


An "all-party" cabinet is going to be formed tomorrow, for the first time in the history of the country's parliamentary democracy.

The exact size of the cabinet could not be known, but it may have around 50 members, compared to the 32 in Sheikh Hasina's last cabinet.

Contacted, several Awami League leaders have said they are in the dark about who will be in the cabinet and that only Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina knows it.

Over the past few days, however, more than 150 lawmakers from the AL and several lawmakers from five other parties had been lobbying hard for ministerial posts.

Some of them, including those who magically amassed huge wealth over the past five years, met Hasina at the Gono Bhaban and expressed their desire to get the job.

They even went on to praise the PM for what they called her "bold leadership", sources said.

Meantime, many ruling party MPs have been discussing among themselves that Hasina should discard the corrupt ministers of the previous cabinet and include those having clean images.

This, they argue, will ease people's frustration that the AL has won a one-sided election.

According to AL sources, the Jatiya Party that is being considered as the main opposition party with 33 lawmakers may get three to four ministries. However, the PM has yet to make a final decision about this.

The JP's intention to play a double role in the government has raised questions from different quarters, including from the AL.

AL Presidium Member and Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said the JP should not take part in the government.

Experts say that the main opposition joining the cabinet is unprecedented in the country.

Also, there is no provision in the constitution allowing the opposition to join the cabinet, barrister Rafique-Ul Huq told The Daily Star.

He added if JP lawmakers wanted to do so, they must first resign from the opposition.

Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said, "If the opposition lawmakers accept ministerial posts, then they are no longer in the opposition; they are coalition partners of the government."

And if an all-party cabinet is indeed formed, it will be like the one in the Soviet Union in the 1970s when there was no opposition in parliament, he said, adding that the government seemed to have adopted that model.

Asked if it was against the constitution and the House rules of procedure, he irritatingly said: "Who cares about the constitution?"

According to government sources, Hasina's first challenge is to get international support. Considering this, she will appoint an experienced lawmaker as foreign minister to deal with the international community that is highly disappointed with the government for holding a one-sided election that saw a very low turnout.

AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam and PM's International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi are the top candidates for the post. But incumbent Foreign Minister AH Mahmud Ali may continue if the two refuse to take the job, AL insiders said.

Incumbent Finance Minister AMA Muhith is also likely to continue for a few months. Tofail Ahmed may get the commerce ministry.

As maintaining law and order is a major challenge for the government, the prime minister is looking for an experienced lawmaker from her party for the home ministry.

Experienced ministers like Matia Chowdhury, Obaidul Quader, Nurul Islam Nahid, Abdur Razzaque, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, among others, will continue in the new cabinet that may see more than 10 new faces, the sources said.

They may include engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Asaduzzaman Noor, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Nasrul Hamid Bipu and Anisul Huq.

Changes are also likely in the positions of the PM's advisers.



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