Dhaka – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out possibility of taking any move to bring Bangladesh Nationalist Party of jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia in the next general election due at the end of this year.
“The election is part of a democratic process. Joining the election is a matter of decision by a party. It fully depends on them,” the prime minister said while addressing a press conference on her recent visit to Saudi Arab, Britain and Australia.
She was asked whether she would take any move to bring the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to the upcoming election as the party announced that it would abstain from joining the polls if its jailed chairperson Khaleda is not released.
In response, the Prime Minister said that she cannot force anyone to join the polls.
“I cannot interfere in any party’s decision; I cannot say anyone I will take you to the jail, if you skip the polls. It solely depends on the party,” added Hasina, whose Awami League party won the won the 2014 election with a landslide victory as the BNP and its allies boycotted the polls demanding a non-party caretaker administration to oversee the election.
Khaleda, the BNP chief, was convicted in a graft case and sentenced to five years in jail in and transported to jail in February. Her party has been trying to fight a legal battled to ensure her bail in addition to street agitation.
To a question, the Prime Minister said she did not arrest her (Khaleda) despite there was ground in 2015 when her party resorted to nationwide blockade that left more than 130 people killed mostly in firebombs.
“Khaleda was convicted in a case after a lengthy trial. Her renowned counsels could not prove that she is not guilty. How can I make her release?,” said the Prime Minister adding that she would also try to extradition of Khaleda’s son Tarique Rahman, also convicted in the graft case, from London to face justice.
Hasina hoped that people would vote for her Awami League party to return to power and ensure the pace of development she had taken up would be continued.
“If the people think the development spree should continue and they won’t like to see the destruction similar to 2001, they will surely vote in favour of Awami League,” she added.
The Prime Minister also talked about the award she received in Australia. She dedicated the Women’s Leadership Award 2018 to the women in Bangladesh and across the world.
She received the accolade at the Global Summit of Women on April 27 in Sydney. The US-based Global Summit of Women conferred the award for her leadership in women’s education and entrepreneurship in the South Asian country.
She said poverty reduction is not possible without empowering the women in Bangladesh.
She also talked about the refugee crisis unfolded between Bangladesh and Myanmar after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims crossed the border facing persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Hasina said Bangladesh allowed the Rohingya on humanitarian ground knowing that the huge number of refugees would create a pressure on Bangladesh’s economy. “But, we wanted to show that we respect humanity.”
All the countries, including India, China, Russia and Japan, have supported Bangladesh for repatriation of the refugees, she said referring to the recent visit by a delegation of the United Nations Security Council.
“Bangladesh will be able to feed 1 more million people along with its 160 million population,” she told a questioner.