Bangladesh former PM receiving treatment from foreign doctors amid travel ban

Dhaka, Oct 26 (EFE).– Three specialist doctors that have been flown in from abroad are treating Bangladesh’s ailing former prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who faces a ban on foreign travel from the government, her party said on Thursday.

The doctors arrived in Dhaka this week and have already joined the local physicians in treating Zia, according to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

“The three doctors have come at the family and party initiative,” BNP spokesperson Shairul Kabir Khan told EFE.

“It was the least we could do for her, as the government was not allowing her to travel aboard,” Khan said.

Earlier this month, physicians in Bangladesh advised Zia to undergo a liver transplant abroad as they had “exhausted” all medical options available for her in the country.

The 78-year-old former prime minister has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and suffering from multiple health complexities.

She has been undergoing treatment at a hospital since early August.

The government released Zia, the chairperson of the BNP, and suspended her jail sentences in two graft cases in March 2020, but has banned her from leaving the country.

Zia, the political rival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has since refrained from any political activities.

Her elder son, Tarique Rahman, in exile in London since 2008 and who has been convicted in multiple cases, is serving as the acting party chairman in the absence of his mother.

The BNP has been demanding the government to release her and allow her to travel outside the country for treatment.

Zia’s family also has been appealing to the government to relax the conditions of her release. On Oct. 1, the government had dismissed such a petition from Zia’s family.

Law Minister Anisul Huq had then told reporters that Zia would have to return to jail and make a fresh application for the appeal to be considered.

The BNP has accused the government of acting out of political vengeance.

In February 2018, a special court sentenced Zia to five years in jail for misappropriating funds worth $200,000 meant for an orphanage.

The High Court doubled her sentence from five to 10 years in October 2018 following an appeal by the anti-corruption agency.

A court earlier sent her to jail for seven years in a separate graft case.

Prime Minister Hasina’s Awami League secured a landslide victory in the general elections held on Dec. 30, 2019.

The BNP could only secure seven seats amid alleged fraud and persecution by the ruling disposition.

The BNP and the Awami League have taken turns in power since 1991, except for a brief period of military rule between 2006 and 2008.

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