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     Volume 6 Issue 15 | April 20, 2007 |

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News Notes

Exile of the Matriarchs
It was not surprising when former law minister Moudud Ahmed was picked up last Friday from his Gulshan residence for illegally possessing some liquor, relief saris and oh, tax evasion. The frequent floor-changing barrister was also taken on remand. All this was not really shocking news. It was on Tuesday, April 17 that the real shocker came. Headlines announced that former prime minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia had finally agreed to leave the country after tremendous pressure from the military-backed caretaker government. Her condition was that her two sons would be allowed to leave with her. Funnily enough, after being picked up on Sunday, Arafat , Khaleda's youngest son, did not have to appear in court; instead he was brought back to his mother, after she agreed to being exiled. According to a news report, a highly placed source had revealed that the Saudi government was willing to play host to Khaleda and her family if she agrees to leave willingly. When Khaleda bargained for her eldest son's release, the 'concerned authorities' said that Tareque would later be sent to Saudi Arabia for treatment. Another startling bit of news in the report was that the same source had revealed that the AL chairperson, Sheikh Hasina is also on her way to exile. The source said that Hasina, who is in the US on a private visit, would not be allowed to return home. Thus the saga of the dynastic rule seems to be drawing to a conclusion. One can only wonder who will be contesting the next elections which the caretaker chief has announced will be held by 2008.

Dr Fakhruddin Speaks
On Thursday the 12th of April Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed addressed the nation for the second time during his three-month tenure, while he presented an overview of what the caretaker government had achieved in past three months he also spelled out where the country was going. He said “I would like to categorically state that we [the present caretaker government] will not stay in power a day longer than it is necessary. I strongly believe, it will be possible to hold the much-awaited parliamentary elections before the end of 2008.” Whether that ship will change course is still yet to be seen. He added that the government would continue to take steps to ensure the full independence of the Election Commission, reform in the public administration and finance sector as well as continued deregulation, and zero tolerance against corruption, abuse of power and crimes. He added “We are deeply committed to establishing a sustainable structure to keep muscle-power, money and undesirable elements from influencing not only the next elections, but all long-term elections to ensure that they are free, fair and credible.” In the speech he touched on every topic of importance to the nation, while continuously praising the army's praise worthy efforts in helping the country though this difficult time. While discussing the past and looking forward to the future his 22-minute speech encompassed an era in Bangladeshi politics.

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