Bangladesh polls row

Former military ruler appeals against a ban on him running for office.

    The main opposition alliance led by the Awami league has threatened to boycott the elections [AP] 

    Ruhul Amin Hawlader, secretary-general of Ershad's Jatiya Party, said: "We hope the commission will consider the appeal in a truly democratic spirit and find a legal way to allow him to contest the poll."

    About 50 people were injured on Thursday when Ershad supporters battled with police in northern Bangladesh.
       
    Ershad is allied with the Awami League of Sheikh Hasina, the former prime minister. The league has been the main opposition party to Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh National Party (BNP) for five years.
       
    He and Hasina were expected to address a news conference later on Friday to give a formal reaction to what they said was the "election authority's conspiracy" to keep the former ruler from standing in the polls.
       
    Plot

    On Tuesday the supreme court ordered Ershad to give himself up and upheld a two-year jail term for squandering state funds while he was in power in a deal to buy patrol boats from Japan.
       
    But Ershad and his allies say this is a plot to keep him out of the election race, calling the verdict "remote-controlled" and a punishment for his refusal to join forces with Khaleda.
       
    Ershad, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1982, was ousted in a people's revolt led jointly by Khaleda and Hasina.
       
    The two women, who have alternated as prime minister of the impoverished country for 15 years, fell out after Ershad's overthrow and have been foes ever since. Both are key contenders for power in the upcoming election.
       
    Khaleda ended her five-year term as prime minister late in October and handed power to an interim government, headed by Iajuddin Ahmed, the president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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