Sheikh Hasina calls for early Bangladesh polls
Apr 29, 2007 - 9:41:36 AM

Dhaka/London, April 29 - Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has maintained her chant for early polls to establish an 'elected, transparent and accountable government' if poverty and corruption are to be eradicated in the country.

Preparing to leave London a week after she was prevented from boarding a homebound flight, Hasina has kept up her media campaign, rejecting suggestions that she might be cowed down by possible harassment by government quarters.

'My people are with me,' she told Al Jazeera television.

A murder and an extortion charge have been slapped against her during last one month while she was on a family visit to the US.

Hasina admitted the presence of corruption in the country, but hastened to add that it could only be curbed by 'an elected, transparent and accountable government'.

She observed that the country could not run long without elections.

Before returning home, Hasina will deliver a lecture at London School of Economics Tuesday and meet Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon Thursday.

Her efforts to 'return home and face consequences' a week back were thwarted by Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed's interim government saying her return could cause political instability and disruption to the economy.

This, and alleged efforts to exile immediate former prime minister Khaleda Zia to Saudi Arabia failed last week.

The government persistently denied such efforts and admitted them to be 'a mistake' and has since said that suggestions for sending/keeping the two women leaders out came from sections of their respective political parties.

Awami League presidium member Suranjit Sengupta and Bangladesh Nationalist Party - leader Brig Gen - Hannan Shah have urged Law and Information Advisor Mainul Hosein, who levelled this charge last week, to disclose the names of their party leaders who suggested that Hasina and Zia be kept away to facilitate political reforms.

Political observers said if this was the government's move to sow seeds of confusion, it might have succeeded.

'Confusion remains within the party -,' Sengupta told New Age Saturday.

BNP vice-chairman M.K. Anwar too said: '...confusion still remains over the idea to exile (the top two politicians]...Such confusion is not unusual.'

'Cross-currents within the party are so strong that we are not sure what political position to take,' an unnamed adviser to Zia was quoted as saying.

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