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BNP leader under ‘virtual’ house arrest

26 December 2013 21:24

342090_Khaleda-Zia

The main opposition party in Bangladesh says the country’s authorities have placed its leader under “virtual” house arrest after she called for a mass rally ahead of the upcoming general elections.

On Thursday, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said security officials were preventing anyone from visiting the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, at her home in the capital, Dhaka.

“Since yesterday she has been under virtual house arrest,” said BNP vice president, Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, adding, “Police are not allowing anyone, including party leaders and activists, to meet her.”

The BNP figure further denounced the measure as “part of a government move to foil the December 29 march for democracy.”

Lutful Kabir, a high-ranking police official, confirmed that extra officers have been stationed outside Zia’s house, but said the move was designed to “enhance her security.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Bangladeshi government deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to restore calm to the country. Local sources estimated that around 50,000 soldiers would be deployed around Bangladesh.

The deployment of forces comes two days after Zia, a former premier and archrival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, called on her supporters to march to the capital city on December 29 to protest the elections and to “say yes to democracy.”

The BNP and 20 other opposition parties in Bangladesh are boycotting the upcoming poll.

Since October, over 100 people have lost their lives in clashes between protesters and security forces after the opposition party launched demonstrations aimed at forcing Hasina to step down before the vote.

Last week, over 100 anti-government protesters were also arrested.

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