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Jailed Bangladeshi ex-PM Khaleda Zia fights bad health, graft cases ahead of December polls

Jailed Bangladeshi ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia could still fight in the December parliamentary elections despite bad health and a graft case that is still pending.
A five-member medical board visited Zia at Bangbandu Sheikh Mujub Medical University (BSMMU) on Sunday.
The medical board, led by Professor Abdul Jalil Chowdhury of BSMMU, examined all her previous reports and said “her treatment will continue as before,” hospital director, Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al Harun, told Arab News.
Zia’s personal physician, Dr. Mamun, was also present during the visit of the medical board, said Harun.
The board will visit the ailing former premier again on Monday, he added.
Zia was admitted to BSMMU on Saturday according to a high court directive issued last Thursday which ordered her to be moved from prison to hospital to ensure better treatment and the formation of a five-member medical board to examine her.
Zia is serving a five-year sentence in erstwhile Dhaka Central Jail, in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. She was put behind bars on Feb 8, 2018, after the court ruled against her.
The thrice former premier of Bangladesh has been suffering from a problem in her knees and other ailments for a long time.
However, Zia’s imprisonment has put her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in a tight spot for the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to take place by the end of this year.
There are also mixed opinions about her eligibility to compete in the forthcoming polls.
“She has filed an appeal petition against the verdict and the trial process is still going on. As long as the appellate division of the supreme Court is not issuing any final verdict over her petition, there is no bar on her competing in the next election,” says Mahbub Uddin Khokon, her lawyer and former lawmaker of the country.
The graft case against Zia is “still a very much pending issue ... Nothing is decided yet,” Khokon told Arab News.
Professor Ataur Rahman, a renowned political scientist and teacher at Dhaka University, said: “At present, her political career is in uncertainty and it might not be very smooth in the coming days.
“In Bangladesh political leaders have not only competed in elections while in jail but have also won the race.”
Demanding an election period caretaker government, the BNP boycotted the last parliamentary election of 2014, which was a “political blunder,” said Rahman.
“That crucial decision has put her political career at stake and if a leader like her commits this type of a mistake, then ultimately it hampers the credibility of the leadership.”
Several other cases are pending against BNP chairperson Zia, and the court is expected to announce its verdict in another graft case soon.

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