Bangladesh gov’t: Op­po­si­tion leader Zia can’t con­test polls

The Myanmar Times - - World -

BANGLADESH’S gov­ern­ment has an­nounced that op­po­si­tion leader and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Khaleda Zia is in­el­i­gi­ble to con­test De­cem­ber 30 na­tional elec­tions be­cause she has been sen­tenced to prison in two cor­rup­tion cases.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mah­bubey Alam said Sun­day that any­one con­victed and sen­tenced to two years or more in jail is not el­i­gi­ble ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Supreme Court rul­ing.

Zia, 73, who has been in jail since Fe­bru­ary, is serv­ing a 10-year sen­tence on one cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion.

In Oc­to­ber, she was sen­tenced to seven years af­ter be­ing found guilty in an­other case.

Her party has called the con­vic­tions po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Zia had filed nom­i­na­tions for three par­lia­men­tary seats.

Her Bangladesh Na­tion­al­ist Party re­jected Sun­day’s an­nounce­ment.

Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a party leader, called the de­ci­sion “ill-mo­ti­vated.”

“The re­jec­tion of her nom­i­na­tion pa­pers are part of the gov­ern­ment’s blue­print to keep her away from the elec­tion,” he said.

The elec­tions will be held un­der Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, who is seek­ing a third con­sec­u­tive time amid op­po­si­tion ac­cu­sa­tions that she is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian and the op­po­si­tion is be­ing han­dled with an iron fist.

The coun­try’s law min­is­ter had said af­ter her con­vic­tions that it was up to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to de­cide whether Zia could con­test the polls.

Bangladesh’s con­sti­tu­tion says “a per­son shall be dis­qual­i­fied for elec­tion as, or for be­ing, a mem­ber of par­lia­ment who has been, on con­vic­tion for a crim­i­nal of­fense in­volv­ing moral turpi­tude, sen­tenced to im­pris­on­ment for a term of not less than two years, un­less a pe­riod of five years has elapsed since his re­lease.”

The at­tor­ney gen­eral said Sun­day that the pro­vi­sion ap­plies to any­one, and elec­tion of­fi­cials cited a Supreme Court rul­ing to de­clare Zia un­qual­i­fied to run.

Zia faces more than 30 other charges, rang­ing from cor­rup­tion to sedi­tion, which her party has de­nounced as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

The gov­ern­ment has de­nied the al­le­ga­tion.

Zia was the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter three times — twice for full five-year terms and once for a brief pe­riod.

Bangladeshi pol­i­tics are deeply di­vided, with ri­vals Hasina and Zia, both from po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties, al­ter­nately rul­ing the coun­try since 1991, when democ­racy was re­stored.

Photo: As­so­ci­ated Press

In this De­cem­ber 28, 2017 file photo, Bangladesh for­mer PM and op­po­si­tion leader Khaleda Zia, cen­ter, leaves af­ter court ap­pear­ance in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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