Vol. 5 Num 863 Wed. November 01, 2006  
Front Page

10 advisers sworn in
14-party to observe whether they play role to hold fair elections

Ten advisers to the caretaker government headed by Prof Iajuddin Ahmed were sworn in last night at Bangabhaban ending two days' speculations about the appointments.

The chief adviser has convened the first meeting of the council of advisers at 11:00am today. Portfolios will be distributed among the advisers before the meeting.

In the 14-party's formal reaction, its coordinator Abdul Jalil last night told journalists that they will observe activities of the advisers whether they play a role in creating environment for a free and fair election.

Jalil, also general secretary of the Awami League, said after observing the activities of the chief adviser and 10 advisers they will formally speak about them on November 3 at a rally at Paltan Maidan. "In the meantime, they will have to prove their neutrality," he said.

Those who were sworn in as advisers are Justice Fazlul Haque, former cabinet secretary Dr Akbar Ali Khan, former foreign secretary CM Shafi Sami, immediate past army chief Lt Gen (retd) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, former inspector general of police M Azizul Haque, former secretary Dhiraj Kumar Nath, human rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal, Chairperson of Scholastica Pvt Ltd Yasmin Murshed, Journalist Mahbubul Alam, and Prof Emeritus Sufia Rahman.

The advisers' council of the new caretaker government that is tasked with holding the next general elections consists of the highest number of women advisers to any interim government so far.

President Iajuddin Ahmed administered the oath of the advisers in Bangabhaban at 10:30pm in a simple ceremony without attendance of any guest observers. Through the appointments, formation of the interim government was completed two days into the chief adviser's assumption of office.

According to the constitution, the president after appointing the chief adviser should appoint 10 other advisers in consultation with the caretaker government chief. But President Iajuddin Ahmed assuming the office of the non-party caretaker government on Sunday night in addition to his presidential responsibilities urged the major political parties to propose names of prospective advisers.

On the next day, BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party proposed their choices while AL-led 14-party coalition and newly formed Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed their choices yesterday afternoon.

The chief adviser started scrutinising the lists to finalise the names of his advisers, and planned to administer the oath in late afternoon yesterday.

Sources at Bangabhaban and at the Cabinet Division said the ceremony of oath-taking was supposed to be held at 4:00pm and they had completed all preparations.

Directed by Bangabhaban officials, crew of the state-run television and radio also rushed to the president's residence to broadcast the event live.

But in the last moment it was postponed, as selection of names from the lists of proposals was not completed due to disputes between AL and BNP, sources said.

BNP and AL were at loggerheads over the choices of advisers as both the parties were opposing some of the names proposed by rival parties. Amid such a situation, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jatiya Party and newly formed Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also proposed their choices.

The chief adviser last night finalised the names of his advisers and their portfolios after settling the disputes between the major political parties and directed his office and the Cabinet Division to arrange the ceremony.

On receiving the instructions, senior officials of the Cabinet Division again rushed to Bangabhaban in the evening. But the officials were confused whether the oath-taking ceremony would be held or be postponed again.

The officials of Bangabhaban then started contacting the would-be advisers and invited them to attend the oath-taking ceremony at Bangabhaban.

Journalists who were waiting outside Bangabhaban since yesterday morning were not allowed to enter the president's residence to cover the event.

Reporters were repeatedly communicating with the officials of Bangabhaban and Press Information Department seeking information whether they would be allowed to enter the president's residence since evening when the news had been disclosed that the advisers would take oath at night. The officials however did not mention whether the journalists would be allowed to enter Bangabhaban or not.

"Watch BTV," a senior official in Bangabhaban told The Daily Star when contacted in the evening.

Newspersons however were allowed to enter Bangabhaban on Sunday night when the president assumed the office of the chief adviser to the caretaker government. But last night security personnel kept journalists at bay about half a kilometre off the entrance to Bangabhaban.

The chief adviser will distribute portfolios among the newly appointed advisers today.

Observers said the advisers will get charge of ministries on the basis of their expertise. Justice Fazlul Haque may get the law ministry, Dr Akbar Ali Khan finance, CM Shafi Sami foreign affairs, Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury home affairs, Yasmin Murshed education, Mahbubul Alam information, and Prof Emeritus Sufia Rahman health ministry.

FROM LEFT... Human rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal, Chairperson of Scholastica Pvt Ltd Yasmin Murshed, Prof Emeritus Sufia Rahman, Journalist Mahbubul Alam, former secretary Dhiraj Kumar Nath, former inspector general of police M Azizul Haque, former foreign secretary CM Shafi Sami, Lt Gen (retd) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, former cabinet secretary Dr Akbar Ali Khan and Justice Fazlul Haque is being sworn in as adviser to the caretaker government by Chief Adviser Prof Iajuddin Ahmed at Bangabhaban last night. PHOTO: PID