Sheikh Hasina, cabinet to be sworn-in Sunday

Dhaka, Jan 12: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her new cabinet were set to be sworn-in Sunday for the second consecutive term, after the ruling Awami League-led coalition won the Jan 5 parliamentary polls, which the opposition boycotted.

“All preparations for the new cabinet to be sworn in Sunday evening at Bangabhaban (the official residence and office of the Bangladesh’s president) have been completed,” a cabinet division official told Xinhua.

He said President Abdul Hamid will administer the oath to the prime minister and her cabinet colleagues in a ceremony to be attended by about 1,000 guests.

Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, cabinet division secretary, said Hasina will be sworn in as the prime minister at 3.30 p.m. Sunday after dissolution of the poll-time cabinet and council of advisers.

Hasina gave him a list of her new ministers – state, deputy ministers and advisers – after President Abdul Hamid’s approval, Bhuiyan added.

The cabinet might have 48 to 50 members but the number of new advisers is not be known, sources said.

Hasina has insisted her victory in the parliamentary polls was legitimate, despite the elections being boycotted by the opposition and its allies.

The 18-party opposition alliance, led by two-time former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has since Wednesday called for a blockade of roads, rail and waterways in order to topple the government.

Zia, who has been under virtual house arrest, was allowed to leave her home in Dhaka Saturday for the first time in more than two weeks.

Sunday’s ceremony comes after Bangladesh’s newly elected lawmakers were sworn in Jan 9 and it is being held amid countrywide strike called by the opposition.

Bangladesh’s 10th parliamentary elections were held for just 147 of 300 seats in 59 of 64 districts of the country Jan 5, as 153 candidates were elected uncontested.

According to results from the Election Commission, the ruling party Awami League won 232 seats, securing absolute majority in the election.

Hasina first came to power in 1996 and then defeated Zia in a 2008 elections. She has vowed to bring stability in the country.