Ashraf confirms opposition dy speaker
Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Dhaka, Jan 19 (—The Constitution will be amended to create the post of a second deputy speaker in line with the Awami League's pre-polls pledge to offer the job to an Opposition MP, party spokesperson Syed Ashraful Islam said on Monday.

"The constitution will have to be amended to create two posts (of deputy speaker), of which one will be offered to the (main opposition party) BNP," Ashraful, a cabinet minister, told

"We have been discussing the amendment (to the Article 74 of the Constitution)," Ashraful said at his NAM flat residence.

"We'll offer them. Let's see who BNP selects," he said.

BNP secretary-general Khandaker Delwar Hossain had earlier told reporters that his party was yet to get any proposal from the ruling Awami League regarding appointment of a deputy speaker from his party.

The BNP will respond positively if it got such a proposal, he said.

According to the article 74 of the constitution, the first sitting of the first session of a new parliament will elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.

Ashraful did not make it clear whether the ruling coalition would offer BNP the post of deputy speaker, to be chosen in the first sitting of the ninth parliament on Jan. 25, before any constitutional amendment is made.

"As per the draft order of the day, a speaker and a deputy speaker will be elected on Jan. 25 on a priority basis," parliament secretary Ashfaq Hamid told at his office on Monday.

The proposed amendment will be just a formality should it come from the treasury bench, which commands a three-fourths majority.

The ruling Awami League and its allies have 258 seats of the 300 seats in parliament.

AL, having 228 seats alone, in its manifesto ahead of the Dec 29 elections pledged to offer the post of deputy speaker to the opposition if it formed government.

Many speculative stories on implementation of the pledge have since been published in the media.

Syed Ashraful Islam, local government minister, is the first senior Awami League leader to make a clear public statement on the constitutional amendment.

Another senior Awami League MP, preferring anonymity, told that the government must make provision for two deputy speakers if one was from the opposition "to run the House effectively".

"A deputy speaker from the opposition, in absence of the speaker, may not be able to run the house as our democratic values have not yet matured to that level," he said.

According to the Rules of Procedure of the Jatiya Sangsad, the speaker would decide who would preside over the House proceedings in his/her absence.


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