Newly re-elected Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 30) by assuring the opposition that she will allow it to criticize her. Hasina is beginning a third consecutive five-year term after winning a massive victory in Dec 30 elections. She said her government would not create obstacles to criticism by the opposition. The PM made the remarks while congratulating newly elected Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Mia of 11th Jatiyo Sangsad, local media reports said.
The main opposition alliance received only seven of the 300 seats in Parliament. All seven lawmakers are refraining from taking their oaths to protest the election results and were absent as Parliament opened Wednesday. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP is the main partner of the alliance.
The opposition alliance is demanding new elections, saying the polls were rigged, an allegation the Bangladesh Election Commission have rejected.
Hasina said Wednesday she hopes the opposition will be treated properly in Parliament. "I can give assurance that our opposition parties will be able to criticize us enough. We won't create any obstacle," she said.
She urged lawmakers to work for a peaceful country that is free from terrorism, drugs and corruption. "We have been able to continue the democratic process after overcoming many obstacles. All took part in the election spontaneously. This Parliament has been established through a successful election," she said.
The premier also vowed to protect the interest of the people and maintain peaceful environment in the country, saying that the parliament members will have to perform their responsibility keeping this in mind.
“We are the public representatives as we were elected through their vote. So we will have to give attention so that Bangladesh is established as a developed and prosperous country free from militancy, narcotics and corruption and the peace and security of the people are ensured,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has graduated to a developing country due to its tremendous socioeconomic uplift over the last 10 years. “Maintaining this trend, we will build a hunger and poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu, Insha Allah,” she said.
The PM said the Bangladesh Awami League government has been able to keep up the continuity of democracy by crossing many hurdles. “We were elected again in parliament and we must take Bangladesh forward by fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people — it’s our aim,” she said.
The Leader of the House extended her heartfelt congratulations to Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury on her reelection as the Speaker of parliament. “You conducted parliament efficiently twice in the past and you’re elected speaker for the third time,” she said, wishing her success in her new term.
At the outset of her speech, the PM paid tributes to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib the four national leaders as well as three million martyrs and two lakh mothers and sisters who made supreme sacrifice for the cause of independence.