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Former Bangladesh PM faces further legal challenge

Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia speaks during a press conference in Dhaka. (File Photo: AFP)
DHAKA: The Supreme Court (SC) of Bangladesh has stayed the bail order for the release of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia till Sunday.
On Monday, Zia was granted four months’ interim bail from the High Court in connection with her alleged association with a graft case, but on Wednesday, after the hearing of another two petitions filed by the c, the SC stopped Zia’s release on bail.
Three-time prime minister Zia was sent to jail on Feb. 8, after the lower court convicted her for five years in connection with her alleged attachment to the mishandling of the Zia Orphanage Trust fund.
The same court has sentenced her elder son Tarique Rahman, who is the acting chairman of the BNP, and four others, to 10-year imprisonment for their involvement in misappropriate use of the orphanage fund.
The ACC filed the graft case against Zia in July 2008.
“Her immediate release has become uncertain,” said Sanaullah Mia, the legal affairs secretary of the BNP and one of the panel lawyers for Zia. However, Mia said that “the four grounds which the High Court considered to grant her an interim bail of four months still exist there. And we believe that the SC will uphold the High Court’s decision.”
Senior leaders of the BNP have expressed their frustration over the delaying of the party chairperson’s release from jail.
Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, a senior member of the BNP, said that the government was deceiving people and did not want the general election, scheduled for the end of 2018, to happen. “People are doubtful whether they (the ruling party) want to hold the elections or not. That is why they are creating an environment which is totally unfriendly for the election,” Chowdhury said.
Political analyst Professor Mahbub Ullah sees no alternative but the holding of a free and fair general election. “If an inclusive, fair, free and credible election is not ensured, Bangladesh will fall into a serious political crisis.”
Mahbub Ullah, a teacher at Dhaka University, said that although there is a serious gap between the two sides (ruling party and BNP), both of them have faith in the need for elections.
“Awami League (ruling party) has to ensure a participatory election, they cannot take the risk of a manipulated election, and the BNP for its politics’ sake has to go for election. If these two compulsions create a meeting point, then there will be a good election.”