Bangladesh MP defeats Australian Speaker Bronwyn Bishop

Bangladesh MP defeats Australian Speaker Bronwyn Bishop

Bangladesh MP and former Amnesty International “prisoner of conscience” Saber Hossain Chowdhury was today elected as the new President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).He will serve for next three years.

On 16th October Saber Chowdhury defeated three other candidates – Speaker of Australia’s House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop, Indonesian MP Nurhayati Ali Assegaf and former Speaker of the Maldives Parliament Abdulla Shahid – in an election on the concluding day of the 131st IPU Assembly. He becomes the 28th president of the Organization in its 125-year history.

It is believed that Bronwyn lost the vote because Bishop’s decision earlier this month on the treatment of women wearing Muslim face coverings in Parliament House annoyed many Muslim majority member countries which couldn’t believe that Bronwyn Bishop would associate herself with this idea of segregating women because of what they are wearing”.

Saber Chowdhury received 169 votes, while Mrs Bishop and Indonesia’s Nurhayati Ali Assegaf received 95 and 57 votes respectively.

Saber Chowdhury is the third IPU president from South Asia after Najma Heptulla (1999-2002) and Gurdial Singh Dhillon (1973-1976). He takes over from former Moroccan Speaker of Parliament Abdelwahad Radi, who ends his three-year mandate today.

A former businessman with an education in law, politics and economics in Britain, the newly-elected President of IPU first became an MP in 1996 at the age of 35. He was also the youngest member of the government when he held two deputy ministerial posts in succession between 1999 and 2001.

A political prisoner in the early 2000’s, he is a firm believer in the rule of law and human rights. He was involved in ground-breaking legislation to criminalize custodial torture in Bangladesh and to address domestic violence.

An active national politician who has also pioneered community initiatives on a range of social and economic issues targeting women and youth in particular, Saber Chowdhury has similarly been active on the international stage for a number of years.

Climate change, disaster-risk reduction, sustainable development and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament have been the focus of much of his international political work. Within IPU and as a former president of IPU’s Committee on Peace and International Security, he has played an important role on issues relating to a key objective of the Organization.

“Politics and public service is about helping people to solve their problems, to live their dreams. My belief is to always improve upon what you find and leave a better, more peaceful world. I will be an active president, accessible and leading from the front,” he said.

IPU works for the following objectives:

Representative democracy

A strong and efficient parliament is critical to democracy. IPU works to make parliaments more effective in fulfilling their government oversight and legislative roles, in guaranteeing people’s rights and liberties and in securing peace and development.

Women in politics:

Democracy means all voices are heard. IPU is committed to ensuring that women – half of the world’s population – are able to participate equally in politics. Its unique research and data on women’s political participation is a widely used barometer on progress.

International peace and security

IPU’s primary goals are peace and democracy. It gives special priority to preventing and eliminating conflict through political dialogue. It responds to crises which affect world or regional security and monitors certain conflict situations.

Promoting Human Rights

Parliament has a special responsibility to ensure human rights are respected. IPU provides protection and redress to MPs at risk of abuse and helps parliaments to make human rights a reality for everyone.

Sustainable development:

Parliaments play a critical role in social and economic development. IPU supports parliaments on key international development goals, on making development aid more effective and on strengthening parliamentary action on climate change.

Cooperation with the UN:

IPU works closely with the United Nations and other multi-lateral bodies to ensure there is a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation, global governance as well as in the resolution of major international

Another win for Bangladesh:

It is noted Bangladesh Speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury on October 9th in Cameroon was elected as the chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which promotes democracy in the Commonwealth countries.

.She is the first Bangladeshi national who has been made chief of the prestigious body.

Delegates from 53 commonwealth countries on Thursday elected the Bangladesh speaker at the 60th CPA conference in Cameroon capital, Yaounde, where the conference was hosted.

Shirin Sharmin was elected chairperson of the CPA by defeating the lone candidate from Cayman Islands, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, speaker of the British-ruled small state. She recieved 70 votes while Julianna bagged 67 votes, She will hold the post for the next three years, replacing British national, Alan Haselhurst.

The Bangladesh parliament speaker is the second Bengali to adorn the post. The West Bengal legislative assembly speaker Hashim Abdul Halim was the first to get elected chairperson of the CPA executive committee for three-year term (2005-08).

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