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British envoy meets Zia as anti-govt protests continue

PTI | Last Updated: Monday, December 30, 2013 - 20:51

Dhaka: With the war of words between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her arch-rival Khaleda Zia escalating, the British envoy on Monday met the opposition BNP leader, virtually under house arrest, as her party remained adamant over derailing the January 5 general elections.

British High Commissioner Robert Gibson met Zia over an hour at her house amid tight police security and countrywide concern over the opposition`s agitation ahead of the polls.

Gibson, however, did not speak to media persons after coming out of Zia`s residence.

Five sand-laden trucks have been kept in front of her house blocking the road, but one of them was moved to make way for the British envoy. It was repositioned after Gibson left.

Western countries, including the UK and the US, have been asking ruling Awami League and opposition BNP for a solution to the crisis stemming from sharp difference between the two parties over the nature of the poll-time government.

Three top leaders of Zia`s party, including vice chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, also met her for the first time since the former prime minister was placed under virtual house arrest on Friday.

Police detained three BNP women leaders, including vice chairperson Selima Rahman, when they went to meet Khaleda. They were later released.

Earlier in the day, Hasina stepped up her attack against Zia, asking her to stop killing people in the name of anti-government movement.

"You can wage anti-government agitation. But make sure people are not killed and children`s education are not hampered by your movement," she said.

Hasina said there was no ban on anti-government agitation. But it would be unfortunate if the agitation was suicidal, if its purpose was to kill people, she said.
"Let the BNP-Jamaat agitate. But why [do they agitate] against the people? Killing people is no movement," she said.

As the opposition-led `democracy march` entered the second day, a security blanket was thrown over Dhaka with troops guarding key points to secure them from the BNP activists demanding scrapping of the elections.

The capital Dhaka was effectively cut off from the rest of the country as bus, ferry and train services were suspended and roadblocks kept in place to prevent opposition activists from entering the city.

First Published: Monday, December 30, 2013 - 20:51
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