Bangladesh leader vows to return

Sheikh Hasina Wajed to board Dhaka-bound flight in defiance of exile order.

    Hasina has been charged with murder and extortion and barred from the country [AFP]
    It was not known if British Airways staff would allow her to board the aircraft.
     
    Exile order
     
    Bangladesh's new military-backed interim government on Wednesday told all airlines operating flights to Bangladesh to take the necessary measures to prevent Hasina from returning.
     

    Golap said: "She is aware of the bar on her return. It's a confirmed flight. There is no question of staying back."

     

    Hasina has been charged with murder and extortion in her absence and could face arrest if she returns.

     

    Zia meanwhile is reported to be preparing to leave for Saudi Arabia.

     

    A private television channel reported that her departure was imminent. Zia met her son Tareque Rahman, who is being held on corruption charges, at Dhaka central jail.

     

    The attempt to exile the two women, known as the "battling begums" for their longstanding mutual animosity, is part of the government's campaign to clean up Bangladeshi politics before holding fresh elections before the end of 2008.

     

    Zia, who has been under virtual house arrest since April 10, is reported to have agreed to go abroad in return for leniency for her two sons. Her younger son Arafat Rahaman was briefly arrested on corruption allegations last week.

     

    Crackdown

     

    Scores of prominent figures including former ministers - with links to both parties - have also been detained. 

    Zia, a former prime minister, has been under
    virtual house arrest since April 10 [AFP]

     

    Both Zia and Hasina stand accused of misrule that led to a political crisis earlier this year.

     

    The crisis followed a political impasse that climaxed in January amid spiralling violence, in which the Hasina's Awami League accused the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) led by Zia of seeking to rig elections.

     

    As a result, Iajuddin Ahmed, then-president of an interim government tasked with holding fair elections resigned, imposed emergency rule and cancelled the polls.

     

    The new interim government took over power and has won popular support for its anti-corruption campaign.

     

    Ruling dynasties

     

    Zia and Hasina have ruled the country alternately since democracy was reinstated in 1991.

     

    The two represent rival political dynasties that have dominated the political landscape since the country won independence in 1971.

     

    Zia is the widow of Ziaur Rahman, a former president, who was assassinated in an attempted military coup in 1981.

     

    Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the nation's independence leader and first premier and president. He was murdered along with most of his family in a military coup in 1975.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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