Hasina gets more freedom after civic poll win

August 6th, 2008 - 12:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 6 (IANS) Bangladesh’s military-backed caretaker government has extended the parole of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina by another month to facilitate her medical treatment in the US, shortly after her party, the Awami League, emerged victorious in this week’s civic polls. Jailed since July last year and facing a number of graft charges, she is free to stay abroad till Sep 6, but the government can cancel her parole without citing reasons, according to media reports.

The double blessing for Hasina came at the last minute after her husband, retired nuclear physicist Wazaed Miah, made a formal request Tuesday, the reports said Wednesday.

This, however, has not prevented Hasina - flushed with victory and with her cadres at home and in the US in celebratory mood - to join other parties in demanding early parliamentary polls and lifting of curbs under the national emergency.

Most parties reacted sharply to the hint from the Election Commission and from advisers (ministers) in the interim government that like the civic elections, the parliamentary polls too could be held with the emergency in force.

“We will not dissociate ourselves from the demand for withdrawal of emergency ahead of the parliamentary polls,” said Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, New Age newspaper said Wednesday.

Other parties, whether or not they participated in the civic polls, protested the claims made by the government about holding polls amidst emergency.

The government had partially lifted the curbs to facilitate meetings and processions for the polls that saw Awami League winning all the four municipal corporations of larger cities and eight of the nine municipalities in smaller towns.

Hasina’s principal rival, another former prime minister Khaleda Zia, remains in jail. Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) could bag mayorship of only one small town in her stronghold in Bogra district.

Hasina claimed that her party’s victory showed she had lost previous elections because of rigging - implicitly certifying that the Monday round had been fair.

The caretaker government is preparing for the general elections promised for December but it wants to hold another poll for upazilla (sub-district) councils before that.

The Daily Star newspaper quoted US-based news agency News World as reporting that Hasina urged the caretaker government to hold the national election before upazilla polls after the city corporation election results reached Washington where the Awami League president is receiving medical treatment.

“I request the caretaker government to make preparations for holding national election at an earlier date. We have been demanding that the national polls should be held before upazilla elections and we still stand by the demand,” the ex-premeir said.

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