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Home > News > PTI

Bangladesh: Will Hasina throw in the towel?

June 02, 2007 11:04 IST

Amid a protracted campaign within former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's party to clip her 'unlimited powers,' her arch rival and another ex-Premier Sheikh Hasina now appears to be under growing pressure to retire from politics.

The pressure on Hasina, both within and outside her Awami League party, was mounting to retire from politics, The Daily Star reported on Saturday.

The report follows the recent revival of two graft cases against Hasina by the military-backed interim government regarding purchase of MiG-29 fighters and a frigate for the Air Force and Navy during her tenure as the prime minister.
The latest crackdown on senior AL leaders, including its general secretary Abdul Jalil, and Hasina's cousin Sheikh Selim, known to be loyal to her, has dealt her a severe blow.

According to the mass circulated Prothom Alo and other newspapers, she was exposed to more crisis as Jalil reportedly told investigators that black money holders used to get easily party nominations in elections while Hasina exercised her 'absolute power' in making such decisions.

Arrested businessmen and former president of the apex body of the country's business chambers, Abdul Awal Mintoo, admitted during interrogation that a Korean company had given bribe of taka one crore to Hasina to sell their frigate to the Bangladesh Navy.

The High Court on Tuesday set August 1 and 7 for hearing on her petitions for quashing the cases filed during the rule of four-party alliance led by Zia. Also, a Dhaka court two days ago asked for a supplementary probe report to be placed on July 1 on the October 28 Paltan killing case filed against Hasina and 45 others.

The taka three crore extortion case against her too is under investigation.

In addition, the government has been gathering information about Hasina's bank accounts to find out if there has been been any unusual transaction.

The Daily Star said a group of senior AL leaders distanced themselves from Hasina of late, adding to the pressure on her to concede to the demand for radical changes in the party.

The group, it said, with support from some middle-level leaders was working towards intra-party reforms by rendering Hasina 'ineffective' or forcing her to quit saying that no meaningful reform is possible with Hasina still in command.

"Left high and dry by Monday's action that saw AL general secretary Abdul Jalil detained, Hasina has been desperately seeking options to deal with the happenings. But the senior and influential leaders stayed aloof," the report said quoting sources.

"It has turned out to be quite a challenge for Hasina to deal with the crisis both within and outside the AL," it said quoting party insiders.

After the sudden crackdown on high profile politicians of both Awami League and Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party last week, Hasina said the action appeared to be against politics instead of corruption with she herself being the main eventual target of the administration.

Janakantha newspaper, however, said both the major parties were now exposed to great uncertainty with their two top women leaders Hasina and Zia becoming 'isolated' in their respective parties while attempts were underway to float one or more parties with AL and BNP leaders.

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