BANGLADESH: FIRST WOMAN PRIME MINISTER

* Originally posted on ANEWS echo:
* Original Date: 21 Mar 91 05:05:00
* Original From: NYT NEWS
* Original Subj: BANGLADESH: FIRST WOMAN PRIME MINISTER

 Source: Peacenet Via New York Transfer News 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683
 Copyright Inter Press Service 1991, all rights reserved.

	dhaka, mar 20 (ips/tabibul islam) -- begum khaleda zia was wednesday
sworn in as bangladesh's first woman prime minister along with a 32-member
council of ministers.

  but experts here say political uncertainties persist and the newly
emerging order in bangladesh may yet be still born.

  according to experts here zia's appointment takes bangladesh only a step
closer to untying the constitutional tangle, a result of the fuzzy electoral
verdict in parliamentary polls last month.

  with none of the major political parties winning an absolute majority,
doubts remain if zia's bangladesh nationalist party (bnp), the largest party
in parliament, will rule the country.

  under bangladesh's constitution, the 'bnp' can form the government only if
it wins the presidential poll to be held sometime later in the year.

  but awami league chief sheikh hasina wajed last week swore she will "go
back to the streets" if the constitution is not amended in favour of
parliamentary rule.

  wajed, leading proponent of a sovereign parliament accountable to the
people, says the 'bnp' is also bound to change the law.

  last november, bangladesh's major political parties had signed a joint
declaration urging the resignation of president hussain muhammed ershad,
fresh elections and a government "that will remain accountable to parliament".

  zia, known to favour presidential supremacy, this week said parliament
which will meet apr. 5 will decide if the constitution should be amended.

  with 138 seats in the 300-member house -- elections are still to be held
in six -- the 'bnp' has bagged the maximum seats in the "hung" parliament.

  the 'al' and its allies won 100, ershad's jatiya party 35 and the
jamaat-e-islami 18.

  the 'bnp's' two-legged stool has since been propped up by the muslim
fundamentalist jamaat-e-islami.

  unlike wajed who stuck to her party's secular principles, zia wooed voters
by playing the communal card and accusing the 'al' of "undermining islam" to
curry favour in new delhi.

  political experts say the 'bnp' will be able to outvote the 'al' in
parliament, if wajed continues insisting on abiding by the joint
declaration.

  reports here indicate acting president shahabuddin ahmed is also in favour
of transferring power to a president. according to ahmed, the constitution
would prevail over the political edict.

  meanwhile, elected m.ps from the jatiya party this week refused to take
oath till ershad was released by the interim government.

  the deposed former president has been under house arrest since last
december when he was forced to quit after nine years in power, paving
the way for the return of democracy in bangladesh.

  jatiya party members have threatened to launch a countrywide agitation if
ershad who has been charged with treason is not set free by month-end.
(ends/ips/np/ti/an)

  End of text from cdp:ips.news

[ * Origin: The New York Transfer. All the news that doesn't fit;
718-448-2358


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