Dhaka ends confinement of Khaleda Zia

Dhaka ends confinement of Khaleda Zia
Updated 19 January 2015

Dhaka ends confinement of Khaleda Zia

Dhaka ends confinement of Khaleda Zia

Dhaka: Bangladesh Monday ended its confinement of opposition leader Khaleda Zia after a surge in political violence left 27 people dead, but her party vowed to continue a nationwide transport blockade.
Zia had been barred from leaving her office for the last 16 days to prevent her from spearheading protests aimed at toppling her arch-rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Police stationed outside Zia’s office in Dhaka’s upmarket Gulshan district were stood down Monday, while two police vans and a water cannon parked outside were removed.
“We’ve withdrawn the additional security from her office after midnight,” local police chief Rafiqul Islam told AFP, adding that the former two-time premier was now free to leave.
The siege at her office sparked a renewed upsurge in political unrest around the country that left 27 people dead and hundreds injured.
Zia’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) confirmed the security had been removed but vowed Monday to push ahead with the transport blockade which she called during her confinement.
The blockade has seen opposition activists firebomb buses, cars and lorries across the country, while police have retaliated by firing bullets and tear gas.
“The BNP-led 20-party opposition alliance’s transport blockade will continue until the government agrees to our demand,” said party spokesman Sayrul Kabir Khan.
“At the moment, there is no security outside her office,” Khan added.
The blockade has hit the impoverished nation’s economy hard, with shipments of garments from its thousands of factories disrupted. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter after China. Transport operators estimate they are losing $26 million a day, while millions of dollars worth of crops have rotted in the fields.
A total of 238 vehicles have been torched since January 4 and another 307 damaged, according to Bengali daily Prothom Alo.
Zia wants Hasina to call fresh polls after last year’s controversial general election, which was boycotted by opposition parties on the grounds it would be rigged and was marred by deadly violence.