Bangla ex-PM Khaleda's top aide held for feud

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Dhaka, Nov 8: Bangladesh security forces have detained a top aide of former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Ziaamid a violent feud within her party, police said today.

They said retired Brigadier-General Hannan Shah was picked up from his Dhaka home late yesterday for violating emergency rules and provoking violence.

''He has been arrested under emergency rules,'' said a police officer, adding that the move followed sporadic clashes between rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists at a party anniversary.

During the clashes, former army chief Lieutenant-General Mahbubur Rahman was assaulted by activists allegedly loyal to Khaleda, who has been in jail since September awaiting possible trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

Hannan is leading figure in the BNP faction that wants Khaleda to remain the party's chief indefinitely, while Mahbubur sides with rivals who want a drastic overhaul of the party's leadership.

Police said five people were injured and dozens detained during yesterday's clash at the mausoleum of Khaleda's late husband and former president Ziaur Rahman, only blocks away from where Khaleda is being kept at a special jail within the sprawling compound of Bangladesh's parliament in central Dhaka.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January, when the army-backed interim government took charge following months of political violence.

It banned political activities, rallies and protests, cancelled an election planned for January 22 and launched a massive crackdown on corruption aimed at cleaning up politics before parliamentary elections it vowed to hold around end of next year.

A split in the BNP became more apparent last week, when the reformists led by former Finance Minister Saifur Rahman and ex-Commerce Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed ousted Khaleda loyalists from the party's top positions in a surprise midnight move, which Hannan's group called a conspiracy and threatened revenge.

More than 170 key politicians, including Khaleda, her rival former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and dozens of ex-ministers have been detained in the anti-corruption drive.


Reuters
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