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Newly-elected lawmakers take oath of office in Bangladesh

Publication Date : 09-01-2014


The newly-elected lawmakers take the oath of office today, sparking off a debate whether the constitution allows them to do so with the current parliament still in existence.

A section of legal experts claim that there is no constitutional bar for the MPs-elect to taking the oath, while another disagrees with it, saying an MP-elect takes charge once he is sworn in.

Legal expert Anisul Huq told The Daily Star yesterday that there was no constitutional provision that prevents the lawmakers-elect from taking the oath.

“But the MPs won't be able to take charge until the ninth parliament is dissolved or its tenure expires on January 24.”

Huq, also an MP-elect from the AL, said the new parliament would sit on January 25.

Contradicting Huq's claim, eminent Jurist Shahdeen Malik said, “Such an interpretation shows a lack of understanding of the constitution.”

A lawmaker takes office immediately after he is sworn in, according to Article 148 (3) of the constitution, said Malik.

He said once the newly-elected lawmakers were sworn in, there would be two MPs in a single constituency, which is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq said there would be no problem if the ninth parliament is dissolved before the lawmakers-elect are sworn in.

“If they do otherwise, it will be at variance with the constitution,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, however, claimed that there was no legal bar for the MPs-elect to being administered the oath.

There wouldn't be more than one lawmaker in any constituency, as the tenure of the existing lawmakers expires once the MPs-elect take oath today.

The current parliament has a total of 349 lawmakers, including 50 in seats reserved for women, as an MP from a Dhaka constituency died a couple of days before the January 5 polls.

The Election Commission yesterday issued a gazette notification on the election of 290 lawmakers in the 10th parliamentary polls. And the MPs-elect must take the oath by Saturday, as they are obliged under the constitution to do so within three days of the publication of the gazette.

Meanwhile, AL President Sheikh Hasina gave up one of her two seats -- Rangpur-6 -- and sent a letter to the EC yesterday, urging it to hold a by-election there. 

The total number of lawmakers will stand at 638 after the MPs-elect are sworn in.

Speaking at a press briefing in the afternoon, Jatiya Party Presidium Member Raushan Ershad said the lawmakers-elect from the party would join the oath-taking ceremony.  

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury is expected to administer the oath to the MPs-elect at the Jatiya Sangsad at 10:00am.

And a new cabinet is likely to be sworn in on Sunday, and President Abdul Hamid will administer the oath to the ministers at Bangabhaban, said sources in the government.

Once the lawmakers-elect take the oath of office today, the AL parliamentary party will convene to elect the leader of the House, who will then formally request the president to initiate the process of the formation of a new government.

Sources in the AL said the new cabinet to be formed on Sunday would have around 30 members and most of the existing ministers would be part of it.

AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam might be made foreign minister, while Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Matia Chowdhury, Obaidul Quader, Mosharraf Hossain, Nurul Islam Nahid, Latif Siddique, Faruk Khan, Shahjahan Khan and Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain might get important ministries.

Several leaders of the AL's allies, including Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haq Inu and Anwar Hossain Manju, are likely to make it to the cabinet, said the sources.

Besides, at least 10 new faces might be included in the new cabinet, and young lawmakers are high on the list of priorities.

Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Mohammad Farashuddin and AL lawmaker Anisul Huq are being considered for the finance and law portfolios. 
Saber Hossain Chowdhury could get the youth and sports ministry and Asaduzzaman Noor the cultural affairs ministry, according to the sources.

Several AL policy makers said the ruling party wanted to form the new government as soon as possible so that it could take quick decisions to contain the ongoing political violence.

They held a serious of meetings to see whether there was any legal bar for the MPs-elect to taking office before January 24.

Elections were held in 143 constituencies on January 5 with 153 candidates already elected uncontested weeks before the polls.

The EC did not announce the results of eight constituencies, as voting in many polling centres there was suspended in the wake of violence.

Elections will now be held in the eight constituencies on January 16.
The names of two AL lawmakers-elect out of 292 were not mentioned in the gazette as the EC issued show-cause notices on them for alleged violations of the electoral code of conduct.

The AL has already secured 232 seats in the 300-member parliament.



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