May 13, 2004


Bangladesh's main opposition Awami League finally returned to Parliament ending a 71-day boycott of the House after about a year.

The Parliament's main business was marked by the mourning of the assassinated Awami League MP Ahsan Ullah Master, that has shocked the country. The prime minister Begum Zia asserted that his killers will be brought to justice and be tried under the speedy trial act. She called for a wholehearted cooperation from the AL.

AL sources, however, said the party may not continue its presence in the sittings of Parliament. The fact is that if a member is not present in the house for 90 days at a stretch then his seat is automatically vacated by statute. So actually their presence was a step to keep their seats intact.

According to the World Bank South Asian chief, Praful Patel:

"In a robust society, the government, civil society and the opposition should be engaged. What we are finding here is that the opposition is not engaged in the democratic process in parliament.

If the country wants to end its dysfunctional politics it is the government who has to share the bigger burden in reaching out to the opposition."

I hope that they will contribute in the parliament to bring some justice to their eagerness to retain the seats. If they want to bring the govt. down and ask for fresh elections, why can't they do it from the parliament?


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