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Saturday, July 2, 2013              Front Page

16th Amendment Bill Passed

Staff Correspondent

Parliament yesterday passed the 16th amendment of Bangladesh constitution amid continued boycott of parliament by the lackluster opposition. The amendment which practically inserts ” Bangabandhu Dream fullfilment act” enacted by the ‘special parliamentary committee on materialization of dreams of Jatir Pita” into the constitution with unanimous vote of 301 – 0.

As a result of this bold amendment with far reaching effects, Bangladesh will cease to exist as multiparty democracy and a national party to be named as ” Bangabandhu Dream League” ( BDL) will rule the country. This amendment has also changed Bangladesh back to a strong presidential system as prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, amid 30 minute long cheers/ kadambusi/ tears of joy of MPs, was sworn in as the 21st president of Bangladesh by the speaker at the presidential suit of the parliament. Immediately prior to the passing of the amendment, Justice ABM Khairul Haque, the current President of Bangladesh resigned his position on health grounds.

The preparatory work on 16th amendment started few weeks ago after a landmark verdict by the appeallate division of Bangladesh Supreme Court made it mandatory for Bangladesh constitution to be guided by the dreams of the founder of the state Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. As the second revolution, also known as BAKSAL, was the last unfulfilled dream of Bangabandhu, senior Awami League leaders assert that per the Supreme Court verdict, establishment of the principles of BAKSAL becomes mandatory on Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina, after taking oath as president delivered a 90-minute speech to the Parliament.

President Hasina, in her speech told JS that the 16th amendment has ensured “empowerment of people, and their democratic rights and their desire to build a Bangladesh, the father of the nation dreamt of. ” She also pointed out that “People had to suffer a lot in the past. But they will not suffer in the future, as we have been able to ensure prosperity and stability through passage of the constitution amendment bill”.

The chairperson of now defunct Bangladesh Nationalist Party ( BNP), Mrs Khaleda Zia, in a fax message sent from an undisclosed location said  the AL-led ruling coalition has amended the constitution despite protests from the opposition, and by ignoring aspirations of the people. “The consequences will not be good,” she warned. She also added that the national unity party is a farce as it comprises of only Awami League leaders with miniscule presence of its ex grand alliance partners.

In a separate gazette notification, released within minutes of passing of 16th amendment, the registration of 17 political parties including Bangladesh nationalist parties and it’s allies were cancelled.

The reaction of prominent intellectuals and political analysts were mixed. Former secretary Abdar Ali Khan said that it is true that Supreme Court verdict has rightfully mandated the nation to follow the dreams of Bangabandhu and the government did not have anything to do after such a landmark eye-opening verdict. He however stressed that the former opposition should have raised their concern by joining the parliament if they had any objection. Prominent Jurist Shabdhan Malik stressed that the government could wait for the full verdict as the short order consists of only one sentence. He however heavily criticized the former opposition party BNP for not going to parliament and raise the issue.