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By Anjana Pasricha
31 October 2008
In Bangladesh, the Supreme Court has denied bail to former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a corruption case, effectively blocking her from taking part in general elections due to be held in December. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi for VOA on how this could impact the elections to restore democracy being organized by the country's military-backed administration.
The Supreme Court's decision to deny bail to Awami League leader, Sheikh Hasina, came days before she is due back in the country.
|Former Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, in Dhaka, 11 Jun 2008|
She is presently in the United States on parole for medical treatment. On her return, she was expected to campaign for general elections which will end nearly two years of emergency rule in the country.
But her lawyers say the Supreme Court's decision means Sheikh Hasina will be barred from taking part in the elections. Under Bangladesh's law, people on bail can take part in the elections - but not those who are in jail or on parole.
Professor of Political Science at Dhaka University, Ataur Rahman says there are concerns that the Awami League may decide to boycott the polls if Sheikh Hasina continues to be denied bail.
"In case this is not revised, this will have negative implications for Awami League to participate in the elections. It seems so far that they would not participate in elections without Sheikh Hasina. That is the stand …. So far both [parties]) are committed to go to the elections with their top leaders," said Rahman.
Both the leaders of the country's two main parties - Sheikh Hasina of Awami League, and Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party - were jailed last year by the military-backed government on corruption charges. The two women have ruled the country for the last 17 years, and are blamed for many of its political problems.
|Former Bangladeshi prime minister Khaleda Zia after release from detention in Dhaka, 11 Sep 2008|
Leaders of the emergency government had hoped to block them from Bangladeshi politics as part of a drive to clean up the country's corrupt politics. But analysts say the strong backing given to them by their parties made it evident that it would not be possible to hold fair and peaceful elections without them.
They were released in recent months, and hopes were high that this would clear the way for the main political parties to take part in polls.
The military government is under pressure from the international community to hold elections and restore democracy in the country.