Bangladesh premier rules out election cancelation

Updated 03 January 2014

Bangladesh premier rules out election cancelation

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out Thursday any last-minute cancelation of weekend elections that have been boycotted by the opposition, accusing her rivals of holding the country hostage.
In a final address to the nation ahead of Sunday’s violence-plagued polls, Hasina accused opposition leader Khaleda Zia of shunning dialogue and rejecting an offer to share power in an interim administration.
“We have tried our best to bring the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) into the elections,” Hasina, who is the leader of the ruling Awami League, said in a 40-minute televised address.
“Zia spurned my offer for dialogue and instead chose the path of confrontation.
“The Jan. 5 polls will be held in accordance with the constitution,” she added.
More than 140 people have been killed in violence in the last two months since Hasina announced she would not bow to calls to stand aside and let a caretaker government organize the elections.
Zia’s BNP and 20 other opposition parties have refused to take part in the elections over fears that the result would be rigged, dimissing the contest as a “farce.”
The BNP has organized a series of general strikes and blockades designed to paralyze the country and hence scupper the contest.
“She held the people to hostage in the name of strikes and blockades,” Hasina said of Zia, blaming her supporters for the deaths of civilians and security forces.
Diplomatic sources say Hasina has been under new pressure this week to hold off on the election, with envoys privately warning her top aides that the polls would only further inflame tensions.
The United States and the European Union have cold-shouldered the contest, further undermining its credibility by refusing to send observers.
But Hasina, who was elected in 2009 after beating two-time former premier Zia, insisted the polls would be free and fair.
“The polls are being held under an independent election commission,” said the 66-year-old premier, who is the daughter of Bangladesh’s slain founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.