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Bangladesh opposition returns to parliament


Dhaka : Opposition parties in Bangladesh Thursday ended an eight-month boycott and returned to attend the Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly).

Leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia, who returned to the house after 64 days, said the opposition will continue with the protests against the government’s policies “both inside and outside parliament”.

“We returned to parliament to stay in the house to discuss issues of national importance,” opposition chief whip Zainul Abdin Farruque said on the parliament floor, requesting Speaker Abdul Hamid to allow them to voice their issues.

Welcoming the opposition lawmakers, Hamid said their return would make parliament livelier and called upon all lawmakers to be tolerant.

“The opposition should take part in constructive criticism so that the government gets corrected if there is any mistake,” Hamid said.

High on the opposition agenda are this week’s campus violence at Rajshahi University and deals Prime Ministrer Sheikh hasina signed with India during her New Delhi visit last month.

The opposition says Hasina “gave away everything” to India in return for “assurances”.

Zia, a two term prime minister, told media last Sunday that she wanted the constitutional government to function, but warned that she would protest against its “anti-national” policies.

Also ending the boycott were Zia’s Islamist ally, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

The two lost the parliament election in December 2008 after which a 14-party alliance led by the Awami League took office.

The opposition lawmakers had been boycotting the house proceedings since the second session of parliament — the budget session-in June last year, demanding more seats in the front row for opposition MPs.

Later, they added several other demands and asked the speaker and the ruling party to meet the demands for their return to parliament.