Bangladesh caretaker's popularity slashes at minus zero : Khaleda

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Dhaka, Jun 18 (UNI) Bangladesh's former prime minister Khaleda Zia today rated the military-backed caretaker government's popularity at 'minus zero' and called for lifting the state of emergency to hold general elections by October.

''Previously, we had read in newspapers that this government's popularity was at the peak, now they say the popularity has gone down to zero level. But I say it's not at zero but at minus zero,'' she said in brief encounter with reporters at a special court.

Khaleda, who attended the court in connection with the Niko graft case, demanded parliamentary elections first to hand over power to the elected representatives.

The current caretaker government, headed by Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed assumed office in January last year, is under a state of emergency.

The caretaker administration arrested the country's two former prime ministers-- Sheikh Hasina and Kahleda Zia -- along with dozens of former ministers and MPs in connection with corruptions.

On June 11, the government granted Hasina interim release of eight weeks for her treatment in the US. But Khaleda is still in jail as declined to get released on government conditions.

Khaleda said, ''The emergency must go to create atmosphere to ensure participation of all in the parliamentary polls. .. Elections can't be held keeping the emergency in place.'' Replying to a question, she said the caretaker government has no mandate to hold local body elections. ''Lift emergency first, hold national elections by October and hand over power,'' she asserted.

Demanding overseas treatment of the detained ailing political leaders including her two sons, Khaleda said the government which takes a biased stance on medical treatment could never hold neutral elections.

She said not only her two sons but all those leaders who were arrested and had treatment abroad previously should be allowed to get treatment outside the country.

Apprehending unfair trial of the Niko scam case under the emergency, Khaleda demanded trial under existing laws in accordance with the Constitution.

Criticising the proceedings in the special court, the former prime minister said what is happening here cannot ensure fair justice. She alleged that move is underway to punish her in haste, which is unfair and part of a conspiracy and corruption of the government.

''I apprehend that I will not get justice under the emergency.

I've question about the neutrality of the government,'' she said.

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