Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has become the first Bangladeshi to be elected as the chairperson of the executive committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that promotes parliamentary democracy in the erstwhile British colonies.
The delegates from 53 commonwealth countries yesterday elected the Bangladesh speaker at the 60th CPA conference in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.
Shirin Sharmin was elected the chairperson of the 35-member executive committee, defeating the lone candidate from Cayman Islands Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, the speaker of the British-ruled small state.
Shirin Sharmin got 70 votes while Julianna bagged 67, SM Manzur, director of public relations wing of the parliament secretariat, told the Dhaka Tribune. She will hold the post for next three years, replacing British Alan Haselhurst.
Out of the total 321 votes, 137 voters from 175 members of the association turned up at the general assembly which is the lone authorised body to elect the chairperson of the CPA executive committee.
According to the CPA charter, the national and state legislatures are the members of the association. The voters must be present at the general assembly.
Soon after the election, Shirin Sharmin chaired a meeting of the new executive committee at the conference venue.
She is the second Bangalee to adorn the post. Hashim Abdul Halim, speaker of West Bengal legislative assembly, was the first to get elected as the chairperson of the CPA executive committee for a three-year term (2005-08).
Shirin Sharmin is the 21st chairperson of the CPA executive committee since the association was established in 1967.
Political observers say Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury’s win will surely brighten the image of the 10th parliament, which many countries do not appreciate much internationally.
Considering her excellent academic career and contributions to women empowerment and democracy, the western countries, including the British parliament, in August suggested that Shirin Sharmin should contest the votes.
The CPA, UK is one of the 175 branches of the association. The speakers of the House of the Lords and the House of Commons are the presidents of the CPA, UK.
The vice-presidents of the CPA, UK are the prime minister, leader of the opposition, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, secretary of state for international development and those members of the House of Parliament who have previously held some prestigious posts in the UK.
The association exchanges knowledge and practices of parliamentary democracy in the member assemblies.