Opposition leader under house arrest in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The leader of Bangladesh's largest opposition party is under house arrest, supporters say, in a dispute over elections to take place Sunday.

Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister and leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the largest opposition party in the country, has been locked in her home, which is being guarded by dozens of police, said Shamsher Mubin Chowdhury, a senior vice chairman in the party. She has called for large-scale protests of the electoral process and a boycott by all opposition parties.


In addition, Zia has not been permitted to receive visitors since the lockdown began Thursday.

"The authorities are not officially saying she is under house arrest but for all practical purposes she is under house arrest," Chowdhury told the Daily Telegraph of London.

Later Monday, Chowdhury himself was detained by police.

Zia has refused to participate in an electoral process outside observers say is not free and fair. In the past, the ruling Bangladesh Awami League, the party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasani, would step aside to allow a caretaker government to conduct elections. But opposition forces said the party has retained control of all the ministries and elections officials, making it impossible to ensure a fair outcome.


Dealing a blow to credibility of elections this weekend, European and U.S. diplomats have refused to send elections monitors. More than half of the 300 seats in the nation's Parliament will go uncontested.

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