Vol. 4 Num 125 Mon. September 29, 2003  
Front Page

CPA delegates start arriving from today

Officials of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association headquarters will be flying to Dhaka from today to attend the CPA October 4-12 conference, while the main opposition Awami League (AL) is still firm on boycott of the event.

CPA Director (Finance and Administration) Mahbub Alam and another official will arrive today and the others will be in Dhaka by October 3.

Rumours spread yesterday that the AL would join the conference. But AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil brushed aside the speculations about rethinking the conference boycott, saying: "There is no scope for reviewing our decision. What we decided is final."

The AL decided not to join the conference in protest at what it said was the government's arrogant attitude toward the opposition in preparing for the event of the largest platform of lawmakers.

The CPA is yet to finalise the schedule of the inaugural session of the conference, as it still hopes the main opposition party would participate in the conference to be joined by 522 delegates from 154 parliaments in 48 countries. The highest number of delegates -- 174 from 34 parliaments -- will come from India.

The schedule will be finalised after CPA Secretary General Denis Marshall arrives in Dhaka on October 3. Marshall will visit Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and AL President Sheikh Hasina after his arrival.

Earlier in a letter, the CPA secretary-general invited Hasina to attend and speak at the conference on October 7 at the China-Bangladesh Friendship Conference Centre.

Deputy Speaker Akhtar Hamid Siddiqui, vice-president of the 49th CPA conference, yesterday once again urged the main opposition to take part in the event.

"I can't believe the AL will not participate. I still look forward to the participation of the opposition," he told journalists at his Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban chamber.

Asked about the approval of the Bangladesh delegation to the conference without consultations with the AL, the deputy speaker said, "It was approved in line with practice. The speaker communicated with the opposition before he approved the delegation."

The CPA executive committee will hold several meetings from October 4-6 in the build-up to the highlight of the conference to be inaugurated by the prime minister on October 7.

The conference themed "Partnerships for Global Peace and Prosperity" will focus on seven topics: Parliament and Executive: Building a More Effective Partnership, Do we Have Adequate Peacekeeping Mechanism for Preserving World Order, Are the Millennium Goals Achievable, Reconciling Human Rights with Cultural Diversity, How can the Doha Round Contribute to Increasing Trade and Investment Opportunities for Developing Nations and Antiterrorism Legislation: Have We Achieved any Tangible Result.

The final plenary will be held on Balancing Multilateral Support and National Sovereignty: Managing the Interface between the International Community and Local Interest.