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Opposition in Bangladesh reacts bitterly to Hasina arrest


Dhaka : Bitter opposition reaction continued in Bangladesh Tuesday to the dramatic arrest of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina by the military-backed interim government.

Hasina, chief of the country’s biggest political party the Awami League, was arrested early Monday from her residence in Dhaka and is now being held in custody, awaiting trial on charges of extortion and subversion.

Prominent opposition activists decried the arrest as a plot against the early return of democracy in the country.

“The arrest of ex-premier Hasina can destabilise the country and further delay the holding of the general election,” said Rashed Khan Menon who leads the Leftist Workers Party.

Menon’s group, which is part of a broad-based democratic alliance spearheaded by Hasina’s Awami League, called Monday’s detention a shameful act by the interim administration.

The Awami League’s acting chief Zillur Rahman demanded Hasina’s immediate release from prison and the withdrawal of the charges against her.

Hasina’s arch-rival and outgoing prime minister Khaleda Zia has also been summoned to appear before court Aug 26 to answer to charges of tax dodging.

President Iajuddin Ahmad promulgated a state of emergency in January suspending fundamental rights as a standoff between Hasina and Zia pushed the country to the brink of anarchy.

Ahmad also appointed an interim government to steer the volatile country through to national polls by the end of 2008.