Hasina vows to return, contest Bangladesh polls


Dhaka : Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who was denied bail and faces a possible detention, has said that she plans to return home from the US this month and contest the Dec 18 parliamentary elections.

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Media reports say Hasina may return Nov 10, almost five months after being on parole in the US and Canada for medical treatment.

Her prolonged stay abroad, political analysts have said, allows an advantage to her rival and another former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, who leads a four-party Islamist alliance.

Awaiting her return, the leadership of her Awami League (AL) has “suspended” all decisions pertaining to the polls, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

“I am going back, though they did not grant bail. I don’t know what will be my fate after going back home. But I have to go back and I will contest the elections. Definitely, I will take part in the election. Let my people decide,” United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency quoted Hasina as saying in Washington Friday.

The AL is unhappy with the military-backed caretaker government, but Hasina said she was not planning to boycott the elections.

Hasina has denied the graft charges brought by the government and says they are politically motivated, meant to keep her out of the December polls.

“Well, though they have not given me bail, after going back I can seek bail. All the cases, you know, those are all false, fabricated and everybody knows that,” she said.

Hasina said she was eager to run in the elections and would try to improve Bangladesh’s struggling economy.

“This is my priority. That is the economic emancipation of our people. The people are suffering because of the price hikes, the inflation growing at double digits.”

Hasina, who met top Bush administration officials last week, including Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Near East, said she had urged them to send observers to Bangladesh to make sure the elections were free and fair.

Both Hasina and Zia have spent about a year each in jail on graft charges after elections were called off in January last year.