Bangladesh parties to agitate for release of jailed politicians

September 2nd, 2008 - 11:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 2 (IANS) Dhaka’s rival political parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), are back to mutual name-calling, even as they Tuesday announced protest rallies against the government to secure the release of their jailed leaders. The Awami League says the current military-backed caretaker government is favouring the leaders of the rival alliance led by jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia with many of its top leaders securing bail in several court cases.

Zia’s BNP has returned the compliment by pointing to the fact that Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina has been on parole since June 14 and is abroad receiving medical treatment.

The BNP-led four-party alliance announced that it would hold rallies across the country Sep 9 to press its demands, including for the release of Zia and her ailing politician son Tarique Rahman, Star Online said.

The BNP got a shot in the arm when the Supreme Court refused to stay a high court order granting bail to Tarique Rahman in six more cases, in addition to a dozen for which verdicts were pronounced earlier.

Political observers said this could weaken the government’s effort to keep Tarique detained. He is perceived as the most important detainee in the government’s 18-month drive against corruption.

However, a slew of bails to Tarique and leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami has angered the Awami League that has accused the government of favouring Zia-led alliance.

“They have to shed hostile mentality,” said Commerce Advisor Hossain Zillur Rahman, a key negotiator on behalf of the government with political parties, when asked about the Awami League’s charge, The Daily Star said.

Rahman said it was “for the people” to judge if the government was neutral in dealing with political parties.

Rahman said Monday that the release of Khaleda Zia, who completes one year in detention Wednesday was in final stages.

However, the BNP has announced the protest rally, whether or not she is released, party secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain said.

Political analysts said it was part of the pressure tactics as the same day, Hossain said the BNP and is allies would be ready to take part in the elections the government was holding if Zia and her son were released.

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