Khaleda Zia to visit Singapore for treatment
May 16, 2007 - 11:35:31 AM

Dhaka, May 16 - Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia will visit Singapore briefly for medical treatment, her first visit abroad since she quit office in October last year, amidst reports of rumblings within her Bangladesh Nationalist Party -.

The nature of the ailment of Zia, 61, was not mentioned but she is known to have problems in her knees.

'Khaleda Zia is sick and she was visibly very weak on Monday when we met her... Her son Coco is also ill, so she had to cancel her trip to Singapore that night but she will go there soon,' BNP joint secretary general Nazrul Islam Khan said.

'According to the suggestion of specialists, I along with my younger son and my daughter-in-law will go to Singapore for treatment,' Nazrul quoted Khaleda Zia as saying.

Her visit would be a short one. She would not stay 'a day more than required', said Khan as quoted by New Age.

Khan stressed that Zia would like to be back home in time for the death anniversary of her husband, President Ziaur Rahman, who was gunned down in a military coup on May 31, 1982.

BNP leaders, however, did not confirm the scheduled date of their chairperson's trip to Singapore, but party sources hinted that Khaleda might leave Dhaka Thursday.

Meanwhile, Dhaka media have carried reports that indicate an orchestrated campaign against Zia by sections of BNP - the party she has led since 1982.

Some party men have been critical of her, especially after she struck a 'deal' with the government to leave the country for Saudi Arabia, but later backed out last month.

Zia 'once again urged her party leaders not to express publicly their personal opinions regarding party matters, as everyone will get a chance to say anything in party forums when the military backed interim government will lift the ban on indoor politics,' The Daily Star said Tuesday.

Her elder son Tareq Rahman has been in jail since March 7 on charge of extortion and her second son Arafat Rahman too was picked up for economic offences.

One of her political aides, Brigadier - Hannan Shah was also arrested last week.

The party Monday notified the government officially of Zia's proposed trip to Singapore, seeking permission to 15 party leaders to be present at the airport to see her off, and urging security for her Dhaka Cantonment residence during her stay abroad.

The permission has been sought as Bangladesh is under a national emergency wherein political gatherings are banned.

Khan said Zia's younger son Arafat Rahman Coco, his wife, and their two daughters will accompany her to Singapore.

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