Bangladesh: Newly elected MPs to take oath on Jan 3; BNP slams election outcome
Dhaka, Jan 1: The newly-elected lawmakers in Bangladesh will be sworn in on Thursday and a new cabinet could be formed on January 10, the ruling Awami League leaders said on Tuesday, amidst demand of re-election by jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia's BNP, which asserted that its MPs-elect will not take oath.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and its allies won the general elections on Sunday, bagging 288 of the total 299 seats which went to the polls. After her victory, Hasina said that she will be the "premier of all" Bangladeshis and her government's first priority would be to continue the economic reforms.
Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which won five seats in the 300-member Parliament, has rejected the poll outcome as "farcical" and demanded fresh election. The opposition Jatiya Oikya Front - National Unity Front (NUF) - comprising the BNP and some smaller parties, criticised the Election Commission (EC) and accused its chief of being biased.
The EC, however, ruled out holding fresh polls. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the newly-elected lawmakers will be sworn in to Parliament on January 3 (Thursday), Dhaka Tribune reported. A gazette notification will be issued on Wednesday, he said.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said his party is optimistic about forming a new cabinet on January 10, which is celebrated as Bangladesh founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's homecoming day.
"After the landslide victory, Awami League is hopeful that new cabinet members will take their oath on January 10 to mark the historic day," he said.
The BNP, alleging irregularities and vote rigging, said the party's MPs-elect will not take oath as they have already rejected the results, the Daily Star reported. The party took the decision at a meeting of its standing committee held at its chairperson's Gulshan office, the paper said.
"We have rejected the polls results. We will also continue our legal battle and action programmes," BNP General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.
Alamgir, who won from the Bogura-6 constituency, said it has been proved that a credible election is not possible under any partisan government. "The government using state machinery conducted such a farcical election that I think is the most stigmatised election in the country ever," he told reporters, alleging that most of the new voters were denied their right to vote. BNP's ally Gonoforum, which won two seats, said all the opposition candidates will submit a memorandum to the Election Commission on Thursday demanding re-election under a nonpartisan administration immediately.
Jatiya Oikyafront Convener and Gonoforum chief Kamal Hossain made the announcement after a meeting of top brass of the opposition alliance. "Countrymen witnessed and perceived it well how a farcical drama was staged in the name of election on December 30... Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League and its loyal Election Commission have shown the world how to destroy the election system of an independent and sovereign country," Hossain said in a statement.
He said though the results show the Awami League as the winner, 17 crore people of Bangladesh have lost. "Through it our much expected democracy has been buried," Hossain claimed. Prime Minister Hasina brushed aside the Opposition's allegations of vote rigging, saying "if there had been any allegation, the Election Commission would have cancelled voting in the centre immediately".
She said one or two incidents of irregularities out of a total of 40,000 voting centres did not make the whole election unfair. The 71-year-old leader said the priority of her new government will be to complete the programmes that have already been undertaken. "We have okayed different projects, we have to work on them. Now, the most important thing is to ensure the safety and security of our people," she said. She also said that her party does not believe in the politics of revenge.
"Rather, Awami League works for the development of people considering them as human being once it gets elected," she said.
"They [people] wanted continuity of the government, development for which they overwhelmingly voted for us," she said. While Hasina secured an overall fourth term as the prime minister, her 73-year-old arch-rival Zia, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail where she is lodged after her conviction in corruption cases. Zia's BNP has been out of power for 12 years. It boycotted the 10th general elections in 2014.