STATEMENTS OVER RESIGNATIONS Ministers fuel controversy

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Ministers on Tuesday made contradictory statements over their resignations from the cabinet of Sheikh Hasina, fuelling controversies over the issue.
Law minister Shafique Ahmed stunned many by saying that none of the ministers and state ministers had resigned from their offices as per the constitution.
He claimed that they had just expressed their desire to resign in writing to the prime minister and their offices would not fall vacant until their resignations were sent to the president.
‘We have expressed our intention to resign as per the desire of the prime minister to pave the way for formation of an all-party government. The letters we handed over to the prime minister are not our resignations. [Those are] not meant for submission to the president as per the Article 58 (1) of the constitution,’ the career lawyer-turned minister clarified while talking to reporters at the secretariat.
The minister said the letters they had submitted to the prime minister were ‘undated’ and only a process for resignation.
An office staff was seen packing personal belongings, including books and documents, of Sahfique Ahmed – a technocrat minister not likely to be included in the reconstituted cabinet. 
Contradicting him, a number of cabinet members, including information minister Hasanul Haq Inu and food minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, said that they had resigned from the cabinet.
The ministers would continue holding the offices until their resignations were accepted by the president and gazette notifications were issued to this effect, both the ministers said at the secretariat on different occasions.
Inu said the resignations were submitted in keeping with the constitution while Razzaque said they had resigned as per the ‘desire’ of the prime minister.
Most of the cabinet members handed over their resignations in a body to the prime minister on Monday at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat while others tendered resignations earlier to pave the way for formation of a ‘smaller cabinet’ to oversee the national polls to be conducted by January 24 next year.
All ministers and state ministers have continued holding offices even after their resignation from the cabinet, raising questions over the legality of their functions in the government.
Sheikh Hasina on November 4 had asked her cabinet colleagues to resign so that she could induct some new faces in the polls-time cabinet.
‘The prime minister would send some resignations to the president and induct some new figures for reconstitution of her cabinet, which would be smaller in size,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said on Monday.
Asked about the legality of the cabinet meeting after the resignation of all its members, the cabinet secretary refused to give an explanation of ‘the matter relating to the constitution’.
The ministers resigned from Hasina’s cabinet under the Article 58 (1) of the constitution that says ‘the office of a Minister other than the Prime Minister shall become vacant- (a) if he resigns from office by placing his resignation in the hands of the Prime Minister for submission to the President.’
Sub-article (2) says, ‘the Prime Minister may at any time request a Minister to resign, and if such Minister fails to Sheikh Hasina, also the president of Awami League, has initiated a move to constitute a ‘smaller cabinet’ with members of the incumbent parliament probably by November 20.

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