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Visa problems delay exile of former Bangladesh premier

world Updated: Apr 23, 2007 15:33 IST

Complications over visa arrangements have delayed the exile of former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia, a newspaper close to her party said on Monday.

"There is uncertainty about Khalada Zia going to Saudi Arabia. The visa activities and other related activities have not yet been completed," the Bengali-language daily Naya Diganta said.

The newspaper supports the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, which was the biggest coalition partner of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

If visas for Saudi Arabia are not secured for Zia and her family, other countries would also be considered, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Singapore, the report quoted a top-level government source as saying.

Reports over the weekend said visa arrangements were close to being finalised and that a specially chartered plane has been waiting at Dhaka airport to take her out of the country.

Zia and her arch rival Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the head of the Awami League, which held power between 1996 and 2001, and also a former prime minister, are being pushed into exile by emergency-ruled Bangladesh's military-backed government.

The pair are accused of years of misrule that ended in a political crisis earlier this year.

Sheikh Hasina was prevented from boarding a flight to Dhaka from London's Heathrow airport on Sunday.

The government has pledged to clean up Bangladesh's notoriously corrupt political system before holding elections before the end of 2008.