Profile: Khaleda Zia — leader of major party in Bangladesh’s 9th parliamentary election

By Xinhua,

Dhaka : The 9th parliamentary election in Bangladesh kicked off on Monday. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is one of the two major parties of the country and Khaleda Zia is BNP’s chairperson. She ruled Bangladesh as prime minister twice from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2006 and also served as leader of the opposition in the Parliament from 1996-2001.

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Here is the profile of Khaleda Zia.

Khaleda, 63, aspires to form the next government through the parliamentary elections on Monday. Her BNP leads a four-party alliance that includes the country’s largest Islamic party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

In 1960, Khaleda got married to General Ziaur Rahman and has two sons with him. Ziaur Rahman, a liberation war hero of 1971, became president in 1977 through a “yes” or “no” referendum and founded the BNP in 1978.

Until the assassination of president Ziaur in a mutiny in 1981,Khaleda had taken little interest in either politics or public life.

After the assassination of president Ziaur, his vice president Abdus Sattar took over as the acting president.

After four months of presidential election in November 1981, the then Chief of Army Staff Ershad overthrew Sattar and the BNP government in March 1982.

In March 1983, Sattar appointed Khaleda Zia as vice-chairperson of the BNP. In 1984, she became the chairperson.

Khaleda actively participated in the movement of anti Ershad. Khaleda was detained several times at her Dhaka Cantonment house during the nine-year rule of Ershad.

In 1991, she became the country’s first female prime minister through a general election on Feb. 27 and formed the government.

In the 1996 polls, the BNP lost to Sheikh Hasina’s Awami Leaguebut emerged as the largest opposition party in the Parliament.

Aiming to return to power, the BNP formed a four-party opposition alliance and won the Parliament polls in 2001 with a two-third majority and Khaleda was sworn in as the prime minister.

Khaleda was arrested by the incumbent caretaker government on charges of corruption in September 2007 and was released on bail in September this year. Her two sons were also arrested on corruption charges but released on health grounds. They are now undergoing treatment abroad.