Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia will not leave her country for Saudi Arabia even as her rival Sheikh Hasina plans to cut short her US stay to return home, say media reports.
In a reference to the caretaker government's move to pursue corruption cases against 50-odd politicians, media reports on Wednesday said the latest development gave a new twist to the "reported move to make the two former prime ministers leave the country".
Zia's politician son Tareq Rahman is already behind bars for alleged extortion. Last week, Hasina was sued on a similar charge of having forced a firm based in Malaysia to pay up 30 million takas for a contract when she was prime minister (1996-2001).
Hasina reacted sharply, saying she would return to Bangladesh and face the consequences of what she called a politically motivated charge.
The Daily Star reported on Wednesday that Zia was "said to have consented to the move earlier" (of leaving the country) but added that she has "now backtracked on her previous position and informed 'negotiators' involved in the move that she would stay on in the country".
Asked whether the government had made any move to pressure Khaleda and Hasina to leave Bangladesh, the government's communications adviser MA Matin on Tuesday denied it, the Daily Star said.
Following a proclamation of emergency, a move was reportedly initiated to make the BNP and Awami League chiefs leave the country, and thereby rid the two major parties of family control.
The move gained momentum with the crackdown on "corrupt" politicians began February 4.
Khaleda had initially hinted she would leave the country with all her family members, including Tareq, but later changed her mind. "She (Khaleda) is determined not to leave the country," a BNP leader said. "It is apprehended that pressure might continue on her to change her mind."
Khaleda has been reportedly barred from meeting senior leaders of her party and is under strict surveillance. BNP leaders have been asked not to visit Khaleda's residence.