» 03/09/2007, 00.00
Son of ex Premier Khaleda Zia arrested, "epicentre" of corruption
The extensive anti graft campaign, started by the provisional government, has netted Tareque Rahman, “epicentre” of high level corruption; held responsible for billion dollar contracts with Chinese industries to build enormous power plants, of little use to the nation.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh’s Interim Government has tightened its grip on civil liberties while it’s anti graft campaign gathers speed, sparing none in its path. Yesterday evening Fakhruddin Ahmed’s provisional administration outlawed all political activities “public or private”, because “certain parties have been misusing flexibility conceded to them”. A state of emergency has been in act in the country since January 11th last, following weeks of violent protest between activists from the majority political parties. The general elections, which were due to be held on the 22 of February, have been put off indefinitely. Fakhruddin - ex govern of the central bank - has pledged to put an end to corruption before establishing a date for elections.
In recent weeks security forces have arrested over 150 politicians, charged with corruption. Yesterday it was the turn of Tareque Rahman, joint Secretary General of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and son of ex leader Khaleda Zia. Police are holding him for interrogation on charges of extortion to the value of 145 thousand dollars; but other claims against him are far more serious. Analysts in country contacted by AsiaNews tell that in the last 5 years of the BNP government – lead by his mother - Tareque was “the epicentre of high level crime and corruption: an example are the billion dollar contracts approved by him, such as those given to Chinese companies to build enormous power plants. These companies did not posses the technical now how to build the plants which from the very start have struggled to meet 50% of their expected output”.
The UN anti corruption agency declared Bangladesh “the most corrupt country in the world” 5 years in a row. In 2006 the prize passed into other hands, leaving Bangladesh in “only” third place. “Corruption is widespread, from the postman to ministers, from teachers to judges” experts note. “People constantly discuss it, politicians make promises, but no one actually believes its levels can even be reduced”.
Ex premier Hasina released from jail, heads for USA
The leader of the Awami League today left the country for medical care in the United States. Before her departure she requested the interim government release other party members currently being held in prison and the removal of the state of emergency.
Student protests, curfew and universities closed in six cities
The measure taken by the provisional government after three days of clashes between students and army, with one dead and over 200 injured. Demonstrators ask for an end to the state of emergency, while protests take on the characteristics of a popular uprising.
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The president of the electoral committee and the prime minister decide the date without consulting political parties. No comment from the government regarding the possible cancellation of the state of emergency ahead of the ballot.
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Nizami, a religious leader who heads the Jamaat-e-Islami, was a minister in Khaleda Zia’s cabinet. His is the latest arrest among the country’s political elite and main political players.
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Despite the state of emergency, more than 1.2 million voters are called to cast their ballot to elect officials in four cities and nine municipalities. This vote is a test for the upcoming general elections in late December despite protests over its timing and procedures.
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