Month in review: Bangladesh
In a dramatic reversal, the military backed interim government on April 25 withdraws the bar on Awami League President Sheikh Hasina's return to the country and also says it never put any pressure on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for leaving the country. The decision ends weeks of intense speculation and drama regarding the future of the chiefs of the two major political parties in the country, who the government reportedly wanted to send into exiles as part of its political reforms. The decision, welcomed by both political parties, is taken by the caretaker government after two days of emergency cabinet meetings chaired by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, following mounting international and local demands for the rollback.
A home ministry press note says: "The government issued a press note as a special security measure and in the people's interest on April 18 in light of recent comments and activities of Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and her concerns for personal safety. It was clearly stated in the mentioned home ministry press note that the measure was temporary. But, in light of opinions expressed in the media and in different quarters on the matter, the government has decided to withdraw the measure." Hasina says that she will be returning home as soon as possible.
In a separate home ministry press note on Khaleda, the government says: "It has come to the government's attention that a number of news outlets recently have been publishing speculative news and opinions regarding BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia going overseas and her freedom of movement. The government's clear statement in this regard is that the government has never pressured and is not pressuring Khaleda Zia regarding overseas trips or for leaving the country. The government also did not impose any restriction on her movement." This is the first public statement by the government on Khaleda's future after advisers had kept mum over the past week on whether the former prime minister would remain or leave the country.
Law Adviser Mainul Hosein tells reporters, "It does not really matter to this government whether they [Khaleda and Hasina] are in the country or not. If there are allegations of corruption against them, they will be prosecuted."
In a fresh move, the Bangladesh Bank asks all commercial banks to provide all banking information of Khaleda and Hasina.
The Bengal Tigers win the match against South Africa on April 7. The win not only completes a remarkable turnaround for the Tigers following two heavy defeats against Australia and New Zealand but also confirms their first-ever success against the Proteas in the abridged version of the game following seven previous defeats. It is also Bangladesh's highest score in seventeen World Cup games eclipsing their 223-9 against Pakistan in 1999.
On April 13, Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed says the ninth parliamentary elections would be held before the end of 2008 as the present caretaker government is committed to handing over power to an elected government. The ninth parliamentary elections, previously scheduled for January 22, were cancelled following the declaration of the state of emergency on January 11. The CA says the government and the Election Commission is currently mulling holding upazila elections to make local government more effective.
With the sunrise ushering in Pahela Baishakh, people from all walks of life welcome Bangla New Year 1414 all over the country while most residents of the capital throng Ramna Batomul to take part in the biggest carnival of the Bangalees. The festivity starts off early in the morning with the gathering of thousands of people under the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut sing the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore -- "Esho hey Baishakh" -- to welcome the day.