Bangladesh’s Poll Body Rejects Jailed Ex-Prime Minister’s Nomination

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Khaleda Zia has been in police custody since February 8. (File)

Dhaka:

The candidature of jailed former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who has filed her nomination papers for the upcoming general election in the country, has been by the Election Commission due to her convictions in two graft cases.

The Commission's decision came four days after the Bangladesh High Court ruled that a person jailed for more than two years cannot contest polls, effectively ruining her chance to participate in the December 30 polls.

As per election rules, a candidate declared unfit to contest polls can appeal to an EC tribunal for revised decisions or could challenge the commission decision to the High Court.

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Besides Khaleda Zia, the nomination of 15 high-profile candidates were also disqualified on different grounds, the spokesperson said.

Khaleda Zia has been in custody since February 8, when the Dhaka Special Court convicted her in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case and sentenced her to five years of imprisonment for embezzling 21 million Bangladeshi Taka ($252,504). On October 30, the High Court doubled her jail term to 10 years.

On October 29, a trial court convicted her in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case and sentenced her to seven years in prison and imposed a fine of Tk 1 million ($12,024).

Khaleda Zia was made vice-chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the largest political opposition of the country, in March 1983 after the assassination of her husband. She became chairperson of the party on May 10, 1984, a post she is holding till now.

In her 35 years of political career, she went to the jail several times.

During the 2007-2008 tenure of the army-backed caretaker government, she was in jail for about a year on charges of corruption.

The BNP, which boycotted the 2014 elections under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League (AL) government, is set to contest the polls in alliance with the newly formed National Unity Front (NUF) led by eminent jurist Kamal Hossain.

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