Britain seeks Dhaka's commitment for early polls
Apr 25, 2007 - 11:48:48 AM

Dhaka, April 25 - Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina's continuing presence in London after the caretaker government prevented her from flying home seems to have prompted Britain to seek Dhaka's commitment to lift emergency and hold early elections.

British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury, a diplomat of Bangladeshi origin, met Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Huda Tuesday seeking a clear timetable for holding elections.

Huda told him that it was for the government to decide when to lift the emergency and hold the elections. He was in charge of only the 'technical' side of conducting the polls, media reports said Wednesday.

While Hasina has been barred from returning home, her rival, former prime minister Khaleda Zia, is fighting the government's attempts to send her and her family to Saudi Arabia.

Not allowed to board a British Airways flight to Dhaka Sunday, Hasina has stayed on in London, making it clear that she would not go elsewhere and continue her campaign for restoration of democracy in her country. She would also not seek political asylum.

'My tour is over. From here, I will go to Dhaka,' Dhaka newspapers quoted her as telling the British media.

Criticised in many quarters for not honouring the ticket it had issued to Hasina, British Airways has said it was following a written notification from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.

The airline came up with the clarification as Hasina wanted to know why she was denied a boarding pass on flight BA145.

James C. Forster, manager facilitation, said the notification stated that 'Sheikh Hasina had been barred from entering Bangladesh'.

He said the airline's right to refuse carriage is contained within General Conditions of Carriage - for passengers and baggage.

Quoting section 7, paragraph 16 of GCC rules, he said an airline may refuse to carry even a passenger with valid travel documents if the immigration authorities for the country he/she is travelling to told them - that they have decided not to allow him/her entry to that country.

Earlier reports from London and Dhaka had said that the airlines had been told that its operations in Bangladesh could be affected if it allowed Hasina on board.

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