Pime Minister Hasina’s 5th term: A new team up against stiff challenges

From economy to geopolitics, labour dissatisfaction to declining investor confidence, impending Least Developed Country graduation to strained public finances, challenges are in every corner.


President Mohammed Shahabuddin swears in Awami League President Sheikh Hasina as prime minister at the Bangabhaban January 11. PHOTO: COURTESY/ THE DAILY STAR

January 15, 2024

DHAKAAwami League President Sheikh Hasina took oath as the prime minister for the fourth consecutive term and formed government with 37 ministers yesterday.

This is her fifth stint as the PM.

The 76-year-old daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is already the longest serving prime minister of the country.

She became the prime minister for the first time in 1996. She returned to power in 2009 and has won three consecutive elections since then.

Her new cabinet has to hit the ground running given the pent-up issues that are threatening to blow up. From economy to geopolitics, labour dissatisfaction to declining investor confidence, impending LDC graduation to strained public finances — challenges are in every corner.

President Mohammed Shahabuddin yesterday administered the oath of office and oath of secrecy to Hasina and her new council of ministers — 25 ministers and 11 state ministers — at the Bangabhaban Darbar Hall. Cabinet Secretary Mahbub Hossain conducted the ceremony.

The Jatiya Sangsad speaker, the chief justice, the chief election commissioner, Supreme Court judges, MPs, political leaders, chiefs of the three services, journalists, and top civil and military officials were present at the event.

President’s wife Rebecca Sultana and PM’s sister Sheikh Rehana were there.

US Ambassador Peter Haas, Indian High Commissioner Pranay Verma, Chinese Ambassador Yao Wen, Russian Ambassador Alexander Mantytskiy, British High Commissioner Sarah Cooke and French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy were also present.

The ceremony was held a day after the Awami League Parliamentary Party unanimously elected Hasina as its leader, paving the way for her to be the PM.

After the swearing-in was over, Hasina, wearing a white saree and blue shawl, signed the oath of office and oath of secrecy.

Immediately after the cabinet members took oath, the cabinet division issued a gazette notification mentioning the portfolios.

The PM keeps the defence, power, cultural affairs, and labour ministries as well as the cabinet and armed forces divisions for herself.

Former foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali is the new finance minister, replacing AHM Mustafa Kamal.

Previously, he was appointed as a minister for a year in the 9th parliament. He remained a minister through the full term of the 10th parliament.

Mohammed Hasan Mahmud, who served as the information minister in the immediate past cabinet, replaces AK Abdul Momen as the foreign minister.

In January 2009, Hasan Mahmud was appointed as the state minister for foreign affairs. But six months later, he was given the portfolio of state minister for environment. In November 2011, he was made the minister for environment.

AL central committee member Mohammad Ali Arafat has been appointed as the state minister for information.

Ahsanul Islam Titu, a lawmaker from Tangail-6, is the new state minister for commerce.

Mymensingh-9 lawmaker Abdus Salam has been made the new planning minister. This is the first time he has made it to the cabinet.

Muhammad Faruk Khan, who was commerce minister from 2009 to 2011, is the new civil aviation and tourism minister.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a former deputy minister and president of Bangladesh Cricket Board, is the new minister for environment.

Eleven ministers of the immediate past cabinet have retained their berths in the new one. They include Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Law Minister Anisul Huq, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, LGRD Minister Tazul Islam, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder, and Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman.

Faridul Haque Khan and Farhad Hossain are now ministers for religious affairs and public administration. Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, who was the deputy education minister, is the education minister, replacing Dipu Moni. The latter will head the social welfare ministry.

Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, a lawmaker from Brahmanbaria-3, is the new housing and public works minister while former fisheries minister Narayan Chandra Chanda is the land minister.

AL praesidium members Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman are the new textiles and fisheries ministers.

Former chief whip Abdus Shahid is replacing AL praesidium member Abdur Razzaque as the agriculture minister.

Samanta Lal Sen, who is inducted in the cabinet for the first time as a technocrat, is the new health minister.

Rajbari-2 lawmaker Zillul Hakim will be the railways minister, replacing Nurul Islam Sujan.

Bangladesh Cricket Board President Nazmul Hassan is the new sports minister.

Nasrul Hamid, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Zaheed Farooque will continue to be state ministers for power division, shipping, information technology, and water resources.

The other state ministers appointed yesterday are Simeen Hussain (women and children affairs), Kujendra Lal Tripura (CHT affairs), Mohibobur Rahman (disaster management), Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury (expatriates’ welfare), and Rumana Ali (primary education).

Hours after the oath-taking ceremony, the PM appointed Mashiur Rahman, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Gowher Rizvi, Salman F Rahman, Kamal Abdus Naser Chowdhury, and Tarique Ahmed Siddique as advisers.

However, the circular did not contain the name of PM’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, who was her ICT adviser.

In the January 7 parliamentary polls, the AL won 222 constituencies, and independents, mostly AL leaders, won 62. The Jatiyo Party bagged 11, and AL allies Bangladesh Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Bangladesh Kalyan Party won one seat each.

The PM dropped 30 members of the previous cabinet, including heavyweights like Abdur Razzaque, AHM Mustafa Kamal, AK Abdul Momen and MA Mannan and inducted 12 new faces.

Of the 30, 15 were ministers, 13 state ministers and two deputy ministers. Besides, she dropped three technocrat ministers who resigned in November.

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