Bangladesh opposition returns to parliament
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 22:09
Dhaka: Bangladesh parliament on Tuesday witnessed a packed sitting as main opposition BNP returned ending their 75 working days of abstention, while opposition Chief Khaleda Zia said her party intended to take part in proceedings to ensure its stake in the house.

"This country belongs to all of us. We will be staying in the country. We will have to speak for the well-being of the nation," Zia told at the end of her 67-minute address as the ruling party lawmakers were listening to most of her speech.

Zia said her party was willing to continue its presence in the house to take part in the proceedings to make parliament effective.

Speaker Abdul Hamid Advocate earlier welcomed the opposition and sought cooperation of both the ruling and opposition benches.

"I am delighted... I awaited your return with immense eagerness," he said, adding that he expected to run the house with neutrality and fairness to make the proceedings more lively and effective with the support of the lawmakers of both the sides.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was not present at the house. Her arch-rival Zia touched upon most of the national issues dominating the public discussions while her criticism seemed to have concentrated against the past military-backed interim government.

"They caused such a massive loss to the country, it could not allow the nation to proceed ahead. But all blames for the losses are attributed to BNP," she said.

She also criticised the government for "failure" in handling the issues such as price hike, law and order, share market debacle, electricity crisis and "excesses being done" by the ruling party.

The opposition leader, however, in a positive tone suggested the government to take more pragmatic measures in addressing the issues caused by outside Bangladesh factors like global economic meltdown and the political crisis in Middle Eastern countries posing threats to the Bangladesh economy.

Zia's parliamentary address came at the eighth session of the ninth parliament as her party BNP and its right-wing ally Jamaat-e-Islami abstained from the house from the fourth session.

Most of the first three sessions of the house also rarely witnessed the opposition presence in the plenary while they boycotted it protesting the seating arrangements demanding more seats for their leaders.

BNP and its allies continued to abstain from the house in subsequent sessions accusing the ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of taking extra advantages of their "brute majority".


First Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 22:09

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