Khaleda says indefinite Bangladesh blockade will continue

Khaleda Zia has announced that her party will continue blockading Bangladesh, ending hopes of political clouds clearing anytime soon.

Published : 19 Jan 2015, 01:35 PM
Updated : 20 Jan 2015, 11:55 AM

Having been confined to the Gulshan political office for 17 days, the BNP chief called a press conference on Monday evening, a day after police ended the siege.

"The blockade will continue until further announcement," she said.

Khaleda called the blockade on Jan 5 when police barred her from leaving the office to spearhead anti-government agitations on the first anniversary of the 2014 elections that her party boycotted.

Over two dozen people have been killed and hundreds of vehicles damaged during the recent violent campaign.

The BNP chief said she had no plans for other agitations to press for a dialogue over a snap election under a 'neutral' government.

"I'm calling for a political solution to this political crisis," she said.

Khaleda claimed the government had "forced her" to call the blockade and blamed it for the violence during the programme.

"Using gunpowder to torch vehicles and killing people is the Awami League's legacy. They are still up to it," she remarked in a verbal attack on the party of her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The BNP chief said the government had rejected her calls for dialogue and oppressed the opposition instead.

"Return the people's voting rights and take steps to organise an acceptable and inclusive election," the former prime minister told the government.

'Govt confined me'

Police cordoned off the BNP chairperson's office on the night of Jan 3 amid tensions over the first anniversary of the last general elections.

They locked the office's main gate and used 11 trucks to block the street in front of it.

People, who came to meet her, had to take permission from police. The government claimed it was for Khaleda's 'safety'.

Hasina said the BNP chief was "staging a drama" adding that she was "free" to go home anytime.

But Khaleda and her party said she had been 'confined' there.

The police cordon was withdrawn in the early hours of Monday, the birth anniversary of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman.

"The government ended the police siege of my office last night without any announcement. I welcome the move," Khaleda said.

She sidestepped a question on whether she would go out or not.

"This is my office. I've got works at my office. I'll do my work.”

"I'll go wherever I want," the BNP chief said. "If the government has truly ended [the 'siege'], then I'll ask them to assist me in my movements."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher