The ruling Awami League is open to sending BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia abroad “for better treatment”. The party not only will not object to Khaleda travelling abroad but also provide necessary assistance.
Leaders from the Awami League say they believe sending Khaleda out of the country will be a matter of relief both for the government and the opposition.
As a measure in favour of this consideration the ruling party responded positively when BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir demanded that the former prime minister be sent overseas for treatment.
Several Awami League sources say the government has long been considering releasing the BNP chief on parole and sending her out of country ‘for treatment’. In the current situation, the party believes that Khaleda being abroad will be safer for them.
Once the BNP chief goes to a foreign country, her party will no longer be able to launch a movement demanding her release. Moreover, the BNP’s position will be weakened if it takes part in the national election without her.
From the Awami League’s perspective, this will rein in the BNP’s public protests and allow the government some respite.
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Senior ruling party leaders say Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader’s statement on Friday in response to Fakhrul’s statement hinted at the government’s willingness to provide all assistance if Khaleda wants to go overseas.
Sources say a proposal about release on parole was forwarded to Khaleda, currently interned at the old central jail, about three weeks ago through a BNP-leaning intellectual and an influential leader of the 20-Party alliance.
But there was reportedly no positive response. However, the issue of the BNP chief’s deteriorating health and Fakhrul’s media briefing has given rise to new discussions. The ruling party is looking at Fakhrul’s proposal as a green signal from Khaleda Zia about going out of the country.
On Friday, Fakhrul demanded the immediate release of the party chairperson on grounds of health concerns, saying: “We are worried about her health … We demand her unconditional release so that she can receive necessary treatment either at home or abroad.”
Responding to Fakhrul, Quader said that Khaleda would be sent overseas for better healthcare, if necessary.
When asked if Fakhrul’s demand was a compromise, Quader dubbed it a “rumour.”
Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman has rejected the allegation that the government was intentionally trying to remove Khaleda from the country as a tactic.
“She is the leader of a political party. We don’t want her health to deteriorate or any sort of negligence in her treatment. If her condition worsens to a degree that she will need to be treated in a foreign country then the government will consider it,” he said.
Kazi Zafarullah, a presidium member of the ruling party, said the matter depended on the court.
“Let’s see what the court says. You may have misunderstood. I’d like to clarify that it does not depend on us. If [Khaleda] needs to go overseas for treatment, [she] will have to file related documents in court. The jail authorities will carry out the court’s order,” he added.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com