Bangladesh leader jailed as nationwide protests loom

Updated 16 March 2014

Bangladesh leader jailed as nationwide protests loom

DHAKA: A Bangladesh court sent the country’s second most senior opposition leader to jail on Sunday, a prosecutor said, a move set to trigger renewed protests in the politically volatile nation.
The court in Dhaka denied bail to Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who is charged with murder during violence in the run-up to a controversial general election in January.
“The metropolitan magistrate rejected bail for Alamgir and two other BNP officials and sent them to jail,” prosecutor Abdullah Abu told AFP.
The detention comes amid a government crackdown on the BNP and its 18 smaller allies, all of whom boycotted the violence-plagued election and allowed the ruling Awami League to win an absolute majority.
The BNP, which was blamed for much of the pre-poll violence that left hundreds dead, has announced nationwide demonstrations for Monday to protest at the court’s decision.
“These are false, fabricated and politically motivated cases. They are part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on the opposition,” said BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed.
Alamgir and thousands of other BNP officials and supporters were detained for months before the elections after being charged with various offences.


South Korea considers more vaccine buys as coronavirus cases spike

Updated 37 min 28 sec ago

South Korea considers more vaccine buys as coronavirus cases spike

  • South Korea is battling one of its largest waves of coronavirus infections yet

SEOUL: South Korea’s ruling party has called for the country to buy millions of additional coronavirus vaccine doses after a spike in infection numbers raised concerns about the government’s existing plans.
South Korea already plans to secure enough doses to vaccinate 30 million people, or about 60 percent of the population, but Democratic Party lawmakers said they would appropriate funds to buy doses for at least 44 million people.
“The party plans to allocate an additional 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) to next year’s budget,” an official with Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Nak-yon’s office said.
South Korea is battling one of its largest waves of coronavirus infections yet, fueled by small outbreaks in the densely populated capital city of Seoul and surrounding areas.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 438 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 34,201 cases and 526 deaths.
The government’s current vaccine purchase plan puts it well ahead of a World Health Organization goal for the early purchase of supplies for 20 percent of most vulnerable people, and the minimum of 40 percent agreed by European Union nations, Britain and EU partners for their populations.
Korean authorities have said they are not in a rush to procure large numbers of vaccines quickly because the country has succeeded in keeping infection rates at controllable levels, preferring to wait and see which vaccines worked best.
Securing more vaccines of different types is also necessary because their safety has yet to be guaranteed, the KDCA said on Monday.
The KDCA has said they do not expect to start vaccinating the public until the second quarter of 2021.
The Korea National Enterprise for Clinical Trials said that as of Monday 3,500 people have pre-registered to participate in clinical trials for coronavirus experimental vaccines and treatment drugs, though a smaller number will be selected to participate.
Under the current plan, the government has secured a third of the needed doses via the COVAX facility, an international COVID-19 vaccine allocation platform co-led by the WHO, with the remaining doses purchased from private companies.