Warrant issued for Bangladesh ex-PM

Sheikh Hasina, facing charges of murder and extortion, has vowed to return.

    Sheikh Hasina said she must be allowed to return home to answer charges against her

    Return barred


    She said: "I want to go back to my people, my country, this is my country. They have no right to ban me from going to my country."


    Hasina was refused permission to board a British Airways flight to Dhaka last week. The Bangladesh government has asked airlines, immigration officials and security forces to block her return.


    Authorities are warning that Hasina's attempted return to Bangladesh could trigger fresh violence in the country.


    Bangladesh timeline

    1947: It came into being as East Pakistan after Indian independence and partition.

    1971: East Pakistan gained complete independence from Pakistan and the new country was called Bangladesh, with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman taking over as prime minister.

    1982: General Hussain Mohammed Ershad came to power in an army coup, suspending the constitution and political parties but was forced to step down after massive demonstrations.

    1991: Begum Khaleda Zia became the country's first woman prime minister.

    1996: Another woman, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was elected to power.

    2001: The position of prime minister returned to Zia.

    2006: Zia's tenure ended in October and new elections were set for January 2007, but were called off when clashes between the rivals' supporters left 45 people dead.

    The warrant, the latest chapter in Bangladesh's continuing political turmoil, arose from a case filed by a Jamaat-e-Islami official over street battles on October 28 that killed several people.


    Rival faces exile


    Sheikh Hasina and her main political rival Begum Khaleda Zia, also a former prime minister, have been blamed for many of the nation's problems, including widespread corruption.


    Meanwhile, Khaleda's close associates have said authorities want her to go into exile in Saudi Arabia.


    But Khaleda, who ended her five-year tenure as prime minister in October, has vowed to fight all charges at home.


    An election had been planned for January but was called off as rival followers fought street battles for weeks, killing at least 45 people and injuring others.


    Now the interim authority wants both women out of the way, but the two political leaders say it's a denial of democracy.


    Prepared to 'die'


    In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Hasina said she was prepared to die for her cause.


    She said: "I know that I haven't committed any such crime so I'm clear.


    "When they put these charges, immediately after that, I decided to go back and face those cases. When I decided to go back to my country, then they put this ban."


    So far, 160 senior politicians have been arrested in Bangladesh in the anti-corruption crackdown.


    Hasina said if she's being accused, she must be given the right to answer the charges.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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