Vol. 5 Num 1018 Thu. April 12, 2007  
Front Page

Hasina postpones April 14 return

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday postponed her return to the country, which she planned for April 14, after a responsible person in the government assured her that the government will take necessary measures not to tarnish her honour and image, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil said.

"Two false, fabricated and conspiratorial charges have been laid against Awami League President Sheikh Hasina. In order to combat these false charges, she decided to return on April 14, changing the previously scheduled return date," Jalil said at a press briefing at his Gulshan residence last night.

"In this context, a highly-placed authoritative government person contacted both Sheikh Hasina and me yesterday over telephone and requested Sheikh Hasina not to change her earlier scheduled date for returning home," he added.

Jalil told reporters that the official assured Hasina and Jalil that the government will take necessary measures so that her honour and image would not be tarnished.

So, Hasina postponed her return on April 14, said the AL general secretary.

AL sources said the AL Presidium yesterday held an emergency meeting chaired by AL Acting President Zillur Rahman and discussed the government's stance on Hasina's return.

They later called Hasina over telephone and advised her not to return until receiving the "green signal" from the government, sources said.

After corruption charges were brought against Hasina, senior AL leaders close to her advised her on Monday to return home and face the charges to quash rumours that she would not be allowed to return home.

AL sources said the party high-ups will closely monitor the government's assurances to Hasina and Jalil for the next few days.

Asked about a tentative date for Hasina's return, Jalil said, "We will inform you the next timetable of her return in due time."

The ticket for Hasina's April 14 return had already been purchased and she was supposed to board the plane this morning, sources added.

Sources said although there is a possibility that Hasina might return on the earlier scheduled April 26 or 27, the AL president is now likely to stay in the United States until June or July when her daughter is due to give birth.

Following the pressing of charges for murder, Hasina told the BBC Bangla Service that she would be on the next flight home and if the government thinks she can be intimidated from returning home, they would be living in a "fool's paradise."

Hasina said the caretaker government would be wrong if it had thought of preventing her from returning home by bringing charges against her.

"If they [caretaker government] think that they can intimidate me by filing cases, then they would be living in a fool's paradise," Hasina said to BBC Bangla Service last night, from her current location in Florida in the United States.

"As they are bringing charges against me, I would come back soon," the AL chief said adding that she had already asked her political secretary to make arrangements so that she can return home as early as possible.

She also hinted at curtailing her visit to her ailing daughter at Florida.

"I trust the people of my country. They know whatever I do is in their interest and for their benefit," Hasina said.