Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Former premier Sheikh Hasina, left Bangladesh today to travel abroad for “medical treatment”. The interim government allowed the opposition leader, being held on corruption charges, a temporary release permit of eight weeks. She left for London from where she will travel to the United States. The former leader suffers from serious hearing, eyesight and blood problems.
Now members of her party, Awami League (Al), declare themselves open to dialogue with the provisional government to help them in the run up to next December’s elections. There condition for dialogue had been Hasina’s release. The former prime minister was one of many politicians arrested over the course of the past year by the interim government, which is supported by the government. Before leaving, in a telephone conversation with the “chief advisor” Fakhruddin, Hasin requested the release of all other detained party members, that all “false charges” against them are dropped and that the state of emergency, in vigour since January 2007, be called off.
The government also offered the same “release on health grounds” for the other protagonist of the national political scene, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (Bnp) Khaleda Zia, who however refused. The fate of the “two ladies” is one of the questions that the provisional government continues to avoid. It was thought that by distancing them from the public arena, the interim leadership would be able to “clean out” their parties from within and carry out promised reform. But so far this has not been the case and the two women still claim a strong following, which the provisional government (and army) can no longer ignore.