Bangladesh court bars ex-PM from contesting election

Khaleda Zia, leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was prime minister twice and was sentenced in February on corruption charges. (Reuters)
Updated 27 November 2018

Bangladesh court bars ex-PM from contesting election

  • Khaleda Zia and other senior BNP figures imprisoned for corruption had appealed to have their convictions suspended so they could contest next month’s general elections
  • Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told media after the verdict that a convict can only qualify as a candidate once five years have elapsed since the completion of their jail term

DHAKA: Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia cannot contest upcoming elections because of her five-year jail term, the country’s High Court ruled on Tuesday.

Zia, who leads the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was prime minister twice and was sentenced in February on corruption charges.

She and other senior BNP figures imprisoned for corruption had appealed to have their convictions suspended so they could contest next month’s general elections.

But the High Court said those with jail terms of more than two years are ineligible to run even if they have appeals pending.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told media after the verdict that a convict can only qualify as a candidate once five years have elapsed since the completion of their jail term.

The BNP figures were given terms ranging from eight to 20 years in different corruption cases.

Alam said their suspension requests were filed before any court had overturned their convictions.

He was asked about a ruling party minister who was acquitted last month by the High Court on a corruption charge.

Alam said he did not know what arguments had been made for Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya at the High Court, but the constitution is clear on electoral candidates and criminal convictions.

Maya was sentenced a decade ago. Alam said five years had yet to pass since the completion of the jail term.


British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

Updated 11 min 37 sec ago

British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

  • The divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will again try to put his Brexit deal to a vote in parliament on Monday after he was forced by his opponents to send a letter seeking a delay from the European Union.

With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.

Although Johnson hammered out a deal in grueling talks with EU officials last week, it was not certain that the speaker of the House of Commons would allow a vote on the deal on Monday.

Johnson was ambushed by opponents in parliament on Saturday who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which demanded he request a delay until Jan. 31.

In a twist that illustrates the extent to which Brexit has strained the norms of British statecraft, Johnson sent the note to the EU unsigned - and added another signed letter arguing against what he cast as a deeply corrosive delay.

“A further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said his own letter, signed “Boris Johnson”.

The EU has not yet given a clear response.

The British government insisted on Sunday the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31, and plans to put the deal to a vote in parliament later on Monday though it is unclear if the House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, will allow such a vote.

Bercow will make a statement on the proceedings shortly after parliament opens at 1330 GMT.

If Bercow, who said on Saturday he was blindsided by the government’s debate proposal, does not allow it then the government will have to try to push on with the legislation needed for ratification of Johnson’s deal.

But that is a path that exposes Johnson to attempts by opponents to wreck the agreement.

Sterling, which has rallied more than 6% since Oct. 10, slid from five-month highs on Monday. It hit as low as $1.2850 in Asian trading before settling around $1.2920 in London, down 0.5% on the day.

Goldman Sachs raised the probability of the United Kingdom leaving with a ratified deal to 70% from 65%, cut its view of the chances of a “no-deal” Brexit to 5% from 10% and left its view on no Brexit at all unchanged at 25%.