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Speaker: Ebola fear kept many MPs home

  • Published at 10:00 pm October 22nd, 2014

House Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury yesterday said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa made many of the MPs reluctant to travel to Cameroon, where she was elected Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

“Although many chose not to fly to Cameroon, I thank those who dared to go there. My chief campaigner Imran Ahmed, whip Shahiduzzaman Sarker, Waresat Hossain Belal and Sagufta Yeasmin were with me in Cameroon,” Shirin said while addressing the reception organised in honour of her winning the CPA elections.

The parliament arranged a joint reception for Shirin and Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury, who on October 16 was elected President of the Inter Parliamentary Union.

Ministers, parliamentarians, delegates from diplomatic missions and other guests arrived at the South Plaza of the parliament to attend the reception, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the chief guest.

On October 9, the CPA general assembly elected Shirin the first woman chairperson of the commonwealth parliamentary body. She won the election by 3 votes, bagging 70 against her nearest contender who got 67 votes. 

Although the number of voters was 321, many delegates from the CPA member states left Cameroon before the voting took place, resulting in poor turnout.

Shirin said the common question they faced during the IPU campaign in Geneva was why Bangladesh was contesting in both CPA and IPU parliamentary forums.

The prime minister in her speech said Bangladesh had won the “world of democracy”, attributing the successes to women empowerment in the country. 

“The speaker is a woman, the opposition leader is a woman, the deputy leader of the house is a woman. So, we have won,” she said.

Saber Hossain in his address said MPs should not be bothered about whether they were inducted to the cabinet. He said a determined lawmaker could win in the global arena, provided he has confidence and tenacity.

“You may lag behind but ultimately, you will win,” he told the lawmakers attending the event.

Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah presided over the reception, which was followed by a cultural show.

British High Commissioner Robert Gibson also addressed the reception.