ASIA/BANGLADESH - Political crisis more acute : former Premier Khaleda Zia arrested on charges of corruption

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Dacca (Agenzia Fides) - Ever more serious the political crisis in Bangladesh: Mrs Khaleda Zia, former head of government has been arrested by the police in a vast anti-corruption campaign launched by the government led by the former governor of the Central Bank of Bangladesh, Fakhruddin Ahmed, and supported by the army. Mrs Zia, aged 63, was arrested in her home with her son and the court refused to release them on bail.
Since January the country has been governed by an interim executive backed by the army after elections were cancelled because of violence following reciprocal accusations of fraud by the Awami League Party led by Sheik Hasina and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of which Mrs Zia is a member. Since then about 150 prominent figures have been arrested on charges of corruption. Mrs Zia, accused of favouring an industrialist for a contract worth 145 million dollars, has been in politics since the 1980s, and in 1991 became the first woman to lead the government of Bangladesh. The anti-corruption campaign was launched after the proclamation of a state of emergency in January. On remand also another former premier, Sheikh Hasina of the League.
Awami, was allied with Mrs Zia during the dictatorship and then her rival in the successive democratic confrontation.
Bangladesh is in a situation of political stalemate: in a state of emergency since the annulment of elections set for January 2007 but then cancelled because of fierce political fighting. Recently from 22 to 27 August following popular revolts and student uprisings, the government imposed a curfew on six cities and arrested leading politicians, academics and journalists. Observers say the interim government is trying to get rid of the old political leadership to form a new class of cadres for Bangladesh. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2007 righe 25 parole 256)