'Everybody should take a break'
12:00 AM, February 15, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:19 AM, February 15, 2019

'Everybody should take a break'

Hasina hints it could be her last term

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has hinted that her present -- and third consecutive -- term could possibly be her last as prime minister.

She added that she wanted to create room for younger leaders.

In an exclusive interview early last week with Deutsche Welle (DW), the Germany's public international broadcaster, Hasina gave such hints around a month after she assumed office for the fourth time and the third consecutive term as the country's prime minister.

In the recently held general election, the ruling Awami League and its allies secured 96 percent of the seats in parliament.

Speaking to DW, she said, "I don't want to continue for more [time]. I think that everybody should take a break so we can accommodate the younger generation."

The interview was conducted by DW's editor-in-chief Ines Pohl and the head of DW's Asia department, Debarati Guha, in Dhaka on February 9.

Over the past several years, Bangladesh, under Hasina's leadership, has made rapid economic progress and is now moving toward being classified from a lower- to middle-income country. The economy has been growing at an average of six to seven percent annually, the trade volume has multiplied and foreign investment too has gone up.

But despite increasing prosperity, one in every four Bangladeshi remains poor, according to the World Bank. Hasina said the fight against poverty would continue to be her first priority during the rest of her tenure. "Food security, housing, education, healthcare, job opportunities; these are basic needs," she said. "Definitely, every human being wants a better life… We have to ensure that," she added.

Burgeoning growth and development have not silenced Hasina's critics, who say she has not done much to ease restrictions on freedom of expression and prevent attacks on liberal thinkers in Bangladesh.

Hasina, however, said she supported free thought in the country and criticism was only natural. "If you work more, you will hear more criticism," she argued, adding, "You should ask my people whether they are satisfied or not, what they think, whether they are getting all they need, whether I can provide this."

Hasina and the Awami League have also been accused of stifling political discourse and trying to establish a one-party rule, a charge the prime minister denied. "This time, the Awami League candidates were elected in 260 constituencies [out of 300]. So, other parties are also in parliament. How can it be a one-party rule?" she said.

According to her, the opposition parties were weak.

"If any particular party can't reach the peoples' minds, can't get their trust and doesn't get votes, then whose responsibility is this? This actually portrays their weakness," she told DW.

The full content of the interview can be read: https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097.

PM IN GERMANY

Shortly after her interview with the German international broadcaster DW, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flew to Germany and arrived there on yesterday to attend the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2019 which begins today, reports UNB.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Imtiaz Ahmed received the Prime Minister at the airport.

On her way back from Germany, she will visit the UAE to attend the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX-2019) to be held in Abu Dhabi on February 17.

During her stay in Germany, she will attend a community reception at Hotel Sheraton in Munich Arabella Park, to be hosted by the European Awami League on Thursday.

Today, she will attend the health security roundtable titled “Health in Crisis – WHO Cares?” to be jointly hosted by MSC, Centre for Strategies and International Studies, and WHO at Hotel Bayerischer Hof.

Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Beatrice Fihn and Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Dr Bensouda will call on her separately after the event.

In the afternoon, Hasina will attend the opening ceremony of the MSC at the Conference Hall of Hotel Bayerischer Hof, reports UNB.

Afterwards, President and CEO of the Siemens AG Joe Kaeser and CEO of the Veridos Hans Wolfgang Kunz will meet her separately.

Later, the PM will attend a dinner to be hosted by President of the World Economic Forum and Jigsaw CEO Borge Brende Jared Cohen at Galerie Schüller of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof.

On Saturday afternoon, she will join a panel discussion on “Climate Change as a Security Threat” at the conference hall of the Bayerischer Hof hotel.

On the same day, Hasina will depart from Munich International Airport for Abu Dhabi on a flight of Etihad Airlines.

On Wednesday, the PM will fly from Abu Dhabi International Airport for Dhaka on a VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

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