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Hasina wants early polls, says govt may bar her

Sheikh Hasina demands general elections within six months and alleges the Govt is trying to bar her from contesting by framing her in an extortion case.

world Updated: Jan 09, 2008 12:33 IST

Detained former premier Sheikh Hasina has demanded general elections in Bangladesh within six months and alleged that the military-backed Govt was trying to bar her from contesting by framing her in an extortion case.

"They want to disqualify me from taking part in the general elections. I know I will be convicted as their aim is to disqualify me from contesting elections," Hasina told her lawyers as she appeared in a makeshift court to face the indictment hearing on extortion charges yesterday.

"But I want elections within June-July and a handover of power to an elected government to salvage the nation from the present crisis," the Awami League chief, who has been lodged in a temporary sub-jail at parliament complex since her arrest on July 16 last year, said.

But, Hasina said she would not go abroad if any conditions are imposed. "Obviously, I would not go abroad on any condition imposed," Hasina said on Tuesday.

A special graft court trying the 60-year-old leader adjourned earlier this week after she failed to appear before it for the second consecutive day due to illhealth while her doctors suggested she needed treatment abroad.

The election commission in emergency-ruled Bangladesh last year announced a roadmap to hold the polls by the end of 2008. Hasina and her archrival Khaled Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist party were arrested last year under the interim government massive anti graft drive after the imposition of emergency in Jan, 2007 that netted over 200 high profile personalities, mostly politicians.

Speculation had been rife that the regime was working to oust Zia and Hasina from politics under what has been dubbed as the "minus two formula".