Bangladesh: Opposition leader Khaleda Zia alleges conspiracy to keep her in jail till general elections

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Thursday alleged that the Sheikh Hasina government was hatching a conspiracy to keep her in jail till the general elections so that Awami League could win the elections just like the 2014 general elections.

The previous general elections held on 5 January 2014 were boycotted by the majority of the opposition parties including the BNP, as a result of which the ruling Awami League headed by Sheikh Hasina had won a landslide victory. Ahead of the general elections, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was put under house arrest.

The Daily Star reported that Khaleda Zia made this allegation when a four-member lawyer panel met her at the old Central Jail on Nazimuddin Road in Dhaka on Thursday afternoon.

“Khaleda Zia said the lower courts are not granting her bail and withdrawing production warrants even though the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld her High Court bail in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. That means, the government wants to keep her in jail in arranging another lopsided election once again,” Masud Ahmed Talukder, one of the four lawyers who met Khaleda Zia, told The Daily Star.

On 8 February, Special Judge’s Court-5 of Dhaka had sentenced Khaleda Zia to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.

On 16 May, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the High Court order that granted bail to her in this case but she has not been released as yet from the prison.

The Constitution of Bangladesh requires that the Parliamentary elections take place within the 90-day period before the expiration of the term of the Jatiyo Sangshad (Parliament). The current Parliament first sat on 29 January 2014, so in accordance with Article 123(2)(a) of the Constitution, the next general election is expected be held on a date between 31 October 2018 and 28 January 2019.

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