Hasina decries opposition’s strike call

Sunday, November 28, 2010

DHAKA - Ahead of Tuesday’s general strike called by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to protest its leader Khaleda Zia’s eviction from a house, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Zia has no right to make people suffer.

Zia had no right to cause sufferings to people by calling hartal (strike) just to save her illegally grabbed property, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency quoted her as telling a Bangladeshi audience in Brussels.

She (Khaleda) herself went to the court and the court has ordered her to leave the (Dhaka) cantonment house. Why then is she now giving hartal call? Hasina asked.

Hasina’s government Nov 13 evicted Zia from her home that she had lived in since 1972, sparking the current round of stir.

Confrontation is building up in Bangladesh ahead of Tuesday’s strike with police arresting 500 opposition activists.

Confrontation and violence are feared during the general strike as the government has taken a hard line, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

Although ruling Awami League leaders have said their leaders and activists will refrain from holding any programmes against the strike, a number of ministers said the law enforcers will not allow any chaos during the strike hours.

Hasina and Khaleda are long-time rivals in Bangladesh politics and both have worked to consolidate their respective alliances in time for Tuesdays dawn-to-dusk strike that, political analysts say, would be part of a long-standing confrontation.

Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called the general strike to push for a number of demands, including fulfillment of electoral pledges by the ruling Awami League and end to extrajudicial killing, withdrawal of cases filed against BNP leaders and activists and to protest Zia’s eviction from her Dhaka cantonment house.

Zia’s Islamist ally, the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, is expected to join the stir.

The business community has urged Zia to call off the stir fearing a political impasse that could give the economy a setback, as had happened in 2006-07, when a parliamentary election was called off.

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