Hasina may head to US Thursday, but Zia stays on

June 10th, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 10 IANS) Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina may leave for the US as early as Thursday to receive medical treatment that she urgently requires, but her political rival Khaleda Zia is likely to stay back in jail. Various courts cleared the legal processes for the “temporary release” of Hasina, who has been in jail since July 15, facing several corruption charges.

The government heeded her plea to be sent out for treatment, made in March, after a medical board recommended that she needed “better treatment”.

Sources in Hasina’s family said a special Singapore Airlines flight had been arranged to fly her out Thursday.

But details of her travel plans were not being given out ostensibly for security reasons. Her US-based son Sajib Joy, who is making the arrangements for her treatment, pleaded ignorance about his mother’s plans.

Hasina, 61, needs urgent treatment for fluctuating blood pressure, failing vision in one eye and an ear damaged by a grenade attack on her in 2004.

There was no word if the Awami League (AL) that Hasina leads would cooperate with the government by joining the current political dialogue prior to the December elections.

The AL leaders expressed satisfaction at the prospect of their leader being freed and began preparing for her departure, The Daily Star reported Tuesday.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Zia, meanwhile, stepped up demands for their leader’s freedom, warning that it would “not tolerate a conspiracy to send her out of the country”.

The two women leaders have taken differing positions. While Hasina is ready to leave the country, Zia, 62, says she finds “good doctors” at home and wants to stay “among people”.

Zia, detained since Sep 3 last year, needs to tend to her arthritis.

Housed in special jails in the country’s parliament complex, both leaders have denied charges made against them as politically motivated.

Zia’s decision to stay on found an echo in her elder son Tarique Rahman being denied bail and permission to leave the country. Her younger son, Arafat Rahman Koko, also seriously ill, might be freed to go to Thailand.

BNP’s secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain was quoted in the New Age newspaper as saying that the government was working for Tarique’s “slow death”.

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