05/19/2008, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Leader of largest Islamic party arrested on corruption charges

by Nozrul Islam
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.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – After more than a year the provisional government’s vast anti-corruption campaign has netted another major political figure, Motiur Rahman Nizami, head of the country’s largest Islamic parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami. He is alleged to have benefited from the illegal awarding of business contracts when Jamaat-e-Islami was a coalition partner with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Khaleda Zia.

Ms Zia is one of the two former Bangladeshi prime ministers among more than 100 politicians already detained on various corruption charges, the other being former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, all clamouring their innocence. Nizami too has said that the charges are politically motivated

Since January 2007 Bangladesh has been led by army-backed Fakhruddin Ahmed. His administration imposed a state of emergency when it came to power on a pledge to hold elections by December 2008.

Since then it has conducted a campaign to cleanse the political system of all corrupt officials in the two main parties, the Awami league and the BNP, but has failed so far to gain much public support.

Until now the Jamaat-e-Islami, which has strong backing among the country’s more extremist elements, had been left untouched.

Many analysts remain doubtful about the Ahmed government’s promises. For them it is not clear who will lead the main political parties into the elections in six-month time since their most prominent politicians are now behind bars.

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