Khaleda Zia's exiled son named Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief

Feb 09, 2018, 19:59 IST | IANS

The Vice President of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has taken over as the party's chairman after his mother and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was sentenced to five years in prison, an official said

Khaleda Zia's exiled son named BNP chief
Bangladesh Nationalist Party activists shout slogans as they march along a street following the verdict in the corruption case of Bangladesh's main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia in Dhaka on February 9, 2018. Pic/ AFP

The Vice President of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has taken over as the party's chairman after his mother and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was sentenced to five years in prison, an official said.

The decision to elevate Tarique Rahman -- the exiled son of opposition leader Zia -- to the chairmanship was taken after she was jailed on Thursday on charges of misappropriation of funds from an orphanage trust.

"As per the party constitution, Rahman has become the acting chairman... He will discharge his duties as the constitution stipulates," BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon told Efe news.

Rahman, who has lived in exile in the UK since 2008, was also given a 10-year jail term in the same ruling.

Zia's son had been sentenced to seven years in prison in 2016 on charges of laundering $2.5 million between 2003-07.

BNP spokesperson Ripon said Rahman's exile would not affect his leadership.

"Party leaders and activists are aware under what circumstances he is living in the UK, so it will not be a problem. He will run the party in consultation with standing committee members and other leaders," he said.

Earlier, the former Premier's family members met her in prison. Zia's sister Selima Islam, brother Shamim Iskander, his wife Kaniz Fatema and son Avik Iskander had a 40-minute conversation with her, the Daily Star reported.

Zia -- who headed the Bangladeshi government twice (between 1991-96 and 2001-06) -- has been named in 13 cases of corruption, violence and sedition. According to the BNP, hundreds of its activists and leaders face the same situation.

The BNP, which is currently absent from the country's Parliament, boycotted the 2014 general elections after the government led by Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League did away with the system of an interim government.

The BNP and the Awami League have alternately shared power in the country since 1991, except for a brief period of military rule between 2006-08.

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