DHAKA, Bangladesh – The Bangladeshi government has announced that opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia could not participate in the December 30 national elections because she was sentenced to prison in two corruption cases.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said Sunday that anyone found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more is not eligible, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling.
Zia, 73, jailed since February, is serving a 10-year sentence for a corruption conviction. In October, she was sentenced to seven years after being found guilty in another case. His party called convictions political motives.
Zia had submitted nominations for three parliamentary seats. His Bangladeshi nationalist party rejected Sunday's announcement.
Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a party leader, called the decision "badly motivated".
"The rejection of his nomination paper is part of the government's plan to keep it out of elections," he said.
The elections will be held under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is seeking a third consecutive time to be criticized by the opposition for becoming more and more authoritarian and to manage the opposition with an iron fist.
The country's justice minister said after his conviction that it was up to the Electoral Commission to decide whether Zia could challenge the election results.
The Bangladesh Constitution states that "a person will be disqualified to be elected or to be a member of parliament sentenced to a two-year prison term for a criminal offense of moral turpitude five-year period s & # 39; 39 has passed since his release. "
The Attorney General said Sunday that the provision applies to anyone, and the election officials cited a Supreme Court ruling that Zia was not allowed to run.
Zia faces over 30 other charges, ranging from corruption to sedition, which her party denounced as politically motivated. The government denied the allegation.
Zia has been a three-time Prime Minister of the country, twice for a full five-year term and once for a brief period.
Bangladeshi politics is deeply divided. Hasina and Zia, two rivals of political dynasties, have been running the country since 1991, the year of the restoration of democracy.
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