Bangladesh bans public assemblies in capital on day of delivering verdict over ex-PM graft case – Xinhua

DHAKA, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) — Police in Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Tuesday issued an order banning all sorts of public assemblies in the capital city on Thursday when a verdict over former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s graft case will be delivered.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) also imposed ban on carrying sharp weapons, explosives, flammable materials and sticks in the city.

According to a release signed by the DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia, the ban will be effective from 4:00 a.m. local time on Thursday and stay in place until further notice.

In the press release, the DMP commissioner said the decision was made as intelligence and news reports said there are possibilities of subversive activities on the day.

Bangladeshi former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been charged in 30 cases, including five on corruption and 15 for masterminding violence during their anti-government movement since 2014.

Of the five corruption cases, the trial proceedings in Zia Orphanage Trust graft cases against Khaleda have been complete.

The verdict of Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case against Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman, also senior vice president of BNP who has been living in London since 2007, will be delivered on Feb. 8, 2018.

The graft case was filed in July 2008 which said Khaleda and five others including her son Tarique Rahman had embezzled over 20 million taka (253,164 U.S. dollars) from an orphanage trust during her 2001-2006 prime minister term.

Experts say if the opposition chief is convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case, she might be barred from participating in the next general election slated for 2019.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL) party, which rose to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won its second term in 2014, now eyes for the third consecutive victory.

This time again AL is facing challenges from Zia’s BNP, which boycotted the 2014 elections.

Some 21 parties including Zia’s BNP boycotted the parliament elections in 2014 as Hasina did not heed their demand for a non-party caretaker government to hold the polls.

BNP has been demanding parliament polls under a non-party government.

Chances of violent confrontation have risen sharply as BNP prepares to show its political power in response to the anticipated Feb. 8 verdict in the corruption case against Zia.

Zia said political vendettas are to blame for the cases against her and her son.

BNP has threatened to initiate a tough movement against the incumbent government if any unjustified verdict is given against Zia on Thursday.

AL leaders have also reportedly ordered partymen to stay prepared to counter any possible protests that may occur on Thursday if Zia is convicted in the case.

Obaidul Quader, AL general secretary and the country’s road transport and bridges minister, has recently warned that befitting reply will be given to BNP if they try to carry out destructive activities regarding the court verdict.

Hundreds of BNP men including its several frontline leaders have already been detained.

At dinner tables, family gatherings, business meetings and even tea stalls, Bangladeshis are talking about Thursday’s verdict and its consequences.

Analysts say there is every reason to fear that worse is ahead as leaders of the two major parties have been engaged in a war of words and are apparently ready for a street showdown.