Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  
Front Page

AL's JS boycott likely to drag on
No dialogue in sight

The parliamentary stalemate due to the main opposition Awami League's (AL) indefinite boycott of the House is unlikely to end soon with no sign of a change in the AL stance.

The AL stayed out of parliament on June 12 when the national budget for the current fiscal was placed and also on June 30 when it was passed. Lawmakers of the party went to the House on nine working days and staged six walkouts.

With no sign of a dialogue between the treasury bench and the opposition to end the impasse yet in sight, the AL has chalked out some organisational programmes coinciding with the resumption of the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) session on July 5 after a four-day respite.

The party that started its indefinite boycott of parliament on June 26 has decided to observe 'protest day' across the country on July 4 for 'not allowing' its lawmakers to speak in the House and 'invectives' against party chief and Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina. Hasina will begin a tour of the northern districts on July 5.

The current budget session of the JS witnessed passage of the supplementary budget for fiscal 2002-03 on June 17, the budget for 2003-04 on June 30 and tabling of several important bills during 16 working days so far.

The House would first take up a number of bills for passage this time. The remaining parliamentary standing committees are likely to be formed in the last 10 working days of the current session that ends on July 15.

The bills waiting for passage include The Prime Minister's (Remuneration and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2002, The Speaker and Deputy Speaker's (Remuneration and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2002, The Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers (Remuneration and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2002, The Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2002, Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2003, Prevention of Women and Children Repression (Amendment) Bill, 2003, Bangladesh Sericulture Board (Amendment) Bill, 2003, Bangladesh Sericulture Research and Training Institute Bill, 2003 and Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Amendment) Bill, 2003.

The AL kept off the House from the beginning of its session on June 10.

When Sheikh Hasina returned home on June 14 after a month-long tour of Europe and America, the AL Parliamentary Party met next day and decided to join the House sittings from June 16 to protest the budget.

The AL staged its first walkout on that day, protesting the killing of its student front's city unit leader Saiful Rasul Palash.

On June 18, it walked out of the House twice, first protesting a statement by the education minister criticising the AL for calling hartal coinciding with the visits of Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri and US Secretary of State Collin Powell and then over circulation of a letter by Chief Whip Khandakar Delwar Hossain giving instructions on use of mobile phone.

Two more walkouts followed on June 19 and June 24. It staged the sixth walkout on June 25 when the Chair declined to allow its lawmakers to protest State Minister for Housing Alamgir Kabir's 'derogatory remarks' against Sheikh Hasina.

An ALPP meeting on June 26 decided to go for an indefinite boycott of the parliament till the state minister apologised and the Speaker expunged his remarks.

The AL also gave a memorandum to the deputy speaker in this respect and the latter formally invited both the treasury bench and the opposition to talks resolve to the matter.

But the talks became uncertain following fresh 'invectives' against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Hasina by the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Affairs Adviser Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

Treasury bench members including Fazlur Rahman Patal and Hafizuddin Ahmed also did the same without any intervention from the chair, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Abdul Hamid said.