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Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Former prime minister charged in riot deaths

April 12, 2007

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— A former Bangladesh prime minister and 45 members of her political alliance were charged Wednesday in the killing of four of their rivals during riots last year, news reports said.

Sheikh Hasina, who was prime minister from 1996 to 2001, called the charges an attempt to intimidate her. She said she would not be deterred from returning to Bangladesh from the United States, where she was visiting her children.

Protests erupted in October when Hasina's bitter rival, Khaleda Zia, ended her five-year term as prime minister and handed over power to an interim government to prepare for the parliamentary elections.

Hasina's alliance organized the demonstrations alleging that the Election Commission was biased toward Zia's party and was planning to rig the balloting.

Months of street fighting between supporters of the two women left more than 30 people dead until a military-backed interim government imposed a state of emergency in January, canceled parliamentary elections and banned all political activity.

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