Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh prime minister

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Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League (AL) party and its allies won the Dec. 30 elections by a landslide, securing 288 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. (Reuters)
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Sheikh Hasina takes oath as the Prime Minister for the fourth time at the Bangabhaban in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Reuters)
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina including other party officials attend the oath taking ceremony of the newly formed cabinet in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Reuters)
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Sheikh Hasina signs the official oath book after taking oath as the Prime Minister for the fourth consecutive time in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 07 January 2019

Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh prime minister

  • New government urged to fight corruption in all sectors
  • Opposition members did not take the oath as members of Parliament

DHAKA: Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh’s prime minister for a record fourth term on Monday after an election victory marred by claims of widespread rigging.

Hasina’s new Cabinet consists of 47 ministers of them 27 set to serve as ministers for the first time in their political careers.

The Cabinet has 24 ministers, 19 state ministers and three deputy ministers. President Abdul Hamid administered the oath in a ceremony at Bangabhaban, the president’s official residence.

Her ruling Awami League (AL) party and its allies won the Dec. 30 elections by a landslide, securing 288 seats in the 300-seat Parliament compared to just seven for the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led (BNP) alliance Jatio Oikya Front (JOF).

Rejecting the election results, the opposition alliance accused the ruling party of vote rigging and called for a re-election. Opposition members did not take the oath as members of Parliament.

Rasheda K. Chowdhury, an adviser to the former caretaker government said: “The ruling AL had presented a very good election manifesto. If the new government can control corruption in different sectors, that will be a great achievement.” 

Chowdhury urged the new government to take steps to bridge the growing gap between the rich and poor in the country.

Pinning hope on the new faces in the Cabinet, she said most of them have vast experience of working at the grassroots level, which will help them in solving many issues facing the masses.

“They may lack experience, but with good intentions and sincere efforts they can overcome their limitations,” she said.

However, the inclusion of only one woman as a full member in the Cabinet made her a little upset. She said more female representatives would have helped the country in expanding women’s role in development.

Transparency International Bangladesh’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman also called on the new setup to root out corruption from society. 

“During the election campaign, the AL promised zero tolerance on corruption and now the nation wants to see it implemented,” Zaman said. 

He said there are some institutional laws in the country, which tend to scuttle the freedom of expression. He said to ensure “inclusive development,” the new government needs to revisit those laws. 

Dr. Gobinda Chakraborty of Dhaka University said: “To attain sustainable development, the government needs to work on good governance. At the same time, we need to work on development issues beyond infrastructure and social indexes to reduce social inequality.” 

“For the new government, democracy itself is a big challenge. They need to make a functional Parliament which is more vibrant,” said Chakraborty, a renowned political scientist in the country. 

Dr. Dilara Chowdhury a political scientist at Jahangirnagar University stressed the need for establishing “rule of law.”

True progress cannot be measured in terms of gross development product, she added.

“The right of education, health, security, human rights — all these are very much related with the development of a country,” Chowdhury said. 

“Development and democracy is a part and parcel and cannot be separated. Without democracy there cannot be any sustainable development,” she said.

Mali sacks senior army officers, dissolves militia after massacre

Colonel Gabriel Soubrier (L) from the Barkhane mission in Africa's Sahel region, speaks with Anderamboukane prefect Moussa Diallo (C) and Menaka region governor Daouda Maiga (R) at the military base of Malian Army forces (Fama) in Anderamboukane, Menaka region, on March 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2019

Mali sacks senior army officers, dissolves militia after massacre

  • At least 136 men, women and children were killed in the attack, according to a “provisional toll,” public television ORTM said late Sunday

BAMAKO: Mali’s government on Sunday announced the sacking of senior military officers and the dissolution of an ethnic militia, a day after the massacre of more than 130 Fulani villagers, including women and children.
Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said new military chiefs would be named, and that the Dan Nan Ambassagou association, composed of Dogon hunters, had been dissolved.
The dissolution of the militia was to send a clear message, Maiga told journalists: “The protection of the population will remain the monopoly of the state.”
Survivors of Saturday’s attack said ethnic Dogon hunters carried out the deadly raid in Ogossagou, a village in central Mali inhabited by the Fulani community.
While local attacks are fueled by accusations of Fulani herders grazing cattle on Dogon land and disputes over access to land and water, the area is also troubled by jihadist influence.
Maiga did not name the senior officers sacked, but defense ministry sources told AFP they were the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff M’Bemba Moussa Keita, and chiefs of the army and the air force.
The prime minister’s announcement came hours after an emergency meeting called by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in response to Saturday’s massacre.
At least 136 men, women and children were killed in the attack, according to a “provisional toll,” public television ORTM said late Sunday.
The television showed images of burned huts and livestock and shell casings in the village.
The victims were shot or hacked to death with machetes, a security source told AFP.
A government delegation led by Justice Minister Tiena Coulibaly went to the site of the massacre Sunday.
They were sent by the president to “tell the people of Ogossagou that what happened here is unacceptable and that it will not go unpunished,” Coulibaly said.

The UN Children’s Fund said “Malian children are paying a heavy price for the intensification of violence.”
“Growing insecurity since 2017 has led to an increase in murders, mutilations and the recruitment of children,” UNICEF said.
For its part, the European Union called for “immediate steps (including) the disarmament and dismantling of all militias” in Mali.
Researcher Baba Dakono of the Bamako-based Institute for Security Studies told AFP the attack was “unprecedented” but “predictable” because of a weak state presence in the region.
It was the deadliest attack since the end of the 2013 French-led military intervention that drove back jihadist groups who had taken control of northern Mali.

The massacre took place as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited the Sahel region to assess the jihadist threat.
“The secretary general is shocked and outraged” by the bloodshed, Antonio Guterres’s spokesman said in a statement late Saturday.
The UN chief called on the Malian authorities “to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the statement added.
Guterres’s spokesman said the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, provided air support to deter further attacks and assisted with the evacuation of the injured.
The attack was launched at dawn on Saturday in the village near the border with Burkina Faso, in a district that has seen frequent inter-communal violence.
Jihadist fighters have also emerged as a threat in central Mali in the past four years. A group led by radical Islamist preacher Amadou Koufa has recruited mainly from the Fulani community.
Since then, there have been repeated clashes between the Fulani and Dogon and last year the violence claimed some 500 civilian lives, according to UN figures.
In January, Dogon hunters were blamed for the killing of 37 people in another Fulani village, Koulogon, in the same region.
The Fulani have repeatedly called for more protection from the authorities. The government in Bamako has denied their accusations that it turns a blind eye to — or even encourages — Dogon attacks on the Fulani.
Once considered a beacon of democracy and stability in Africa, Mali in recent years has been dogged by a coup, civil war and Islamist terrorism.
Extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
In June 2015, Mali’s government signed a peace agreement with some armed groups, but the jihadists remain active, and large tracts of the country remain lawless,
The violence persists despite the presence of UN peacekeepers, a strong French military contingent and the creation of a five-nation military force in the region.