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New cabinet on Sunday

President invites Hasina to form govt

Mustafizur Rahman

The ruling Awami League is likely to form a new cabinet on Sunday after securing an absolute majority in the controversial January 5 national polls amidst fresh controversies over oath-taking by Members of Parliament-elect before the 9th parliament’s tenure expires on January 24.
President Abdul Hamid on Thursday invited the AL president, Sheikh Hasina, to form the new government.
The prime minister called on the president at Bangabhaban in the evening when she requested him to take steps needed for the formation of the new government, the president’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim said.
Earlier in the day, Awami League lawmakers at its parliamentary party meeting elected prime minister Sheikh Hasina the leader of the House for the 10th parliament after they had been sworn in as members of parliament at Sangsad Bhaban.
Cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the president was expected to administer the oath of office to the new cabinet ‘early next week’.
Asked whether the existing cabinet would continue until the incumbent government’s tenure expires on January 24, the top civil servant said, ‘The new government will be in place once the members of new cabinet take oath of office.’
He, however, refused to explain any constitutional provisions relating to the matter.
Neither the 9th parliament was dissolved nor did Sheikh Hasina resign as prime minister to dissolve her cabinet till Thursday evening. An AL policymaker confirmed that Sheikh Hasina might form her new cabinet on Sunday afternoon.
The Cabinet Division is taking all the preparations to organise the ceremonial takeover of the new government at Bangabhaban, according to the cabinet secretary.  
Senior jurist Rafique ul Huq said there was no problem with the swearing-in of MPs of 10th parliament, but they would not be deemed as lawmakers until the ninth parliament’s term expires.
He, however, opined that the new cabinet cannot take the oath of office unless the present parliament’s tenure expires on January 24. ‘They cannot be regarded as lawmakers before January 24. How could they form the new cabinet?’  
Two hundred and eighty four lawmakers elected for the 10th Jatiya Sangsad took oath on Thursday with the 9th parliament still in place, creating confusions as most constituencies are now having two MPs.
Even before the polling could take place, the ruling alliance nominees, mostly from AL, won without any contest in 153 constituencies in the 300-seat Parliament, more than it needs to form the next government.
The Article 123(3) bars an elected MP to assume office before expiry of previous parliament and Article 148 (2A) makes it mandatory to take oath in three days of publishing gazette notifications of election results.  
And Article 148(3) says, ‘Where under this Constitution a person is required to make an oath before he enters upon an office he shall be deemed to have entered upon the office immediately after he makes the oath.’
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik said swearing-in of new MPs before dissolution or expiry of ninth parliament was contradictory to the Article 123 of the constitution. He observed that the state cannot function this way.
‘Sheikh Hasina must resign as prime minister before taking the oath to form a new cabinet,’ the lawyer said.   

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