Bangladesh opposition may end parliament boycott

Saturday, January 29, 2011

DHAKA - Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies may return to parliament to aggressively take on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government, ending their boycott after eight months.

BNP’s better performance in civic polls and snatching a parliamentary seat from the ruling Awami League, besides economic problems like rising prices of essential commodities and power cuts are expected to boost the opposition campaign in the Jatiyo Sangsad, a media report said Saturday.

The BNP would also like to contest the eviction of its chief, former prime minister Khaleda Zia, from her house last year, as well as alleged harassment of her two exiled sons against whom a number of graft cases are currently on before various courts.

The opposition was decimated in the parliamentary polls in December 2008 and now comprises 38 members in a house of 300.

The BNP-led alliance legislators risk losing membership of parliament if they continue to boycott the House that went into its new-year session last Tuesday, and is scheduled to have 43 more sittings.

They have already absented themselves for 48 days. House rules do not permit absence beyond 90 days.

Both sides are readying for a renewed confrontation in parliament, The Daily Star said.

Zia asked her party officials to ensure the presence of the lawmakers and prepare them to return to the House, slated to resume proceedings Feb 5.

“The treasury bench might have to face an aggressive opposition in the current parliamentary session, as lawmakers from the BNP-led alliance are preparing to launch a blistering attack on the government for the stock-market crash and some other crucial issues,” The Daily Star said Saturday.

A boycott of parliament by the opposition is a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh. Hasina had boycotted parliament for over two years when her party was in the opposition.

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