Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister Bangladesh
Khaleda Zia
Begum Khaleda Zia is a Bangladeshi politician who was Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006. When she first took office in 1991, she was the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world to head a democratic government as prime minister. She is the widow of President Ziaur Rahman, who was assassinated in 1981, and leads the party he founded, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
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Bangladeshi Court Orders Arrest of Opposition Leader
Wall Street Journal - 11 months
A Bangladeshi court ordered the arrest of opposition leader Khaleda Zia in connection with the deadly firebombing of a bus last year, a move that risks triggering political strife in the South Asian country.
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Wall Street Journal article
Former Bangladesh PM to appear in court accused of sedition - about 1 year
DHAKA (Reuters) - Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was ordered on Monday to appear in court to answer the charge of sedition, a move her supporters said was driven by politics.
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Bangladesh Executes 2 Opposition Leaders For War Crimes
Huffington Post - over 1 year
DHAKA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Bangladesh executed two opposition leaders on Sunday for war crimes committed during the 1971 war to break away from Pakistan, a senior police official said, in a move likely to draw an angry reaction from supporters. "Both of them were hanged simultaneously on two separate platforms," the police official said. Islamist opposition leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, former legislator from former premier Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), were hanged shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their appeals late on Saturday for clemency. Mujahid, 67, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, and Chowdhury, 66, were hanged at Dhaka Central Jail. The Supreme Court had previously rejected their appeals against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide and torture of civilians during the conflict.   The Border Guard Bangladesh paramilitary force has been deployed across the country to tighten secur ...
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Huffington Post article
Bangladesh Bloggers Fear Deadly Backlash Won't End Soon
Huffington Post - over 1 year
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Omi Rahman Pial has changed homes five times in the last three months. He hasn't seen his young daughter in weeks and is afraid to be seen on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital and home to several grisly killings of secular bloggers like him. "I am a refugee in my own country," he said. "And under the threat of being killed, nowhere to go. Where should I go? So if you want to see the maximum punishment a blogger could get in Bangladesh, look at me." Fear is running high following months in which four bloggers and three other people have been killed, allegedly by Islamist radicals. Many bloggers have gone into hiding, and some have left the country. Authorities blame the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its main Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, saying they want to destabilize the country ahead of executions, expected late this year, of two influential politicians from the two parties for war crimes. Some of the victims were involv ...
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Huffington Post article
Bangladesh's opposition leader attacked at election rally but unhurt - almost 2 years
DHAKA (Reuters) - Assailants wielding iron rods attacked the car of Bangladesh's former prime minister and main opposition leader Khaleda Zia on Monday during an election rally and then shot at it as the vehicle sped away but she was unhurt, officials said.
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Bangladesh opposition leader Zia granted bail in graft cases
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
By Ruma Paul DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s former premier and main opposition leader Khaleda Zia was granted bail in two graft cases on Sunday after she appeared before a special court, a potential sign of easing tension in the politically unstable South Asian country. Zia appeared amid tight security before a special anti-graft court in the capital, Dhaka, to request bail more than a month after warrants for her arrest were issued, her lawyers said. Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has intensified protests this year in a bid to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to step down and hold a new vote under a neutral caretaker administration after a disputed 2014 poll. Zia’s lawyer, Sanaullah Miah, told reporters she had been unable to appear for previous court hearings "for health and security reasons".
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Yahoo News article
Seven burnt to death after bus firebombed in Bangladesh
Yahoo News - about 2 years
Anti-government protesters firebombed a bus full of sleeping passengers in eastern Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing seven in spiralling political unrest aimed at toppling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Several passengers were also critically injured in the attack in Chuddogram town blamed on activists from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by two-time former premier Khaleda Zia. The deaths brought the number of people killed in the month-long protests to 53 -- most of them victims of firebomb attacks on buses and lorries -- as opposition activists try to enforce a transport blockade. "Seven passengers were burnt to death in the bus after the petrol bomb was thrown at 4am (2000 GMT Monday)," district police chief Tuttul Chakrabarty told AFP by phone.
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Yahoo News article
Crime and politics in Bangladesh: Bang bang club
The Economist - about 3 years
TEN years after they arrived, the weapons have found their victims. In April 2004 police in Chittagong, the main port city of Bangladesh, intercepted a shipment of rifles, submachine guns with silencers, 25,000 hand grenades and more, worth some $5m. Made in China, the arms may have been shipped with help from Pakistani spies set on causing trouble for India. The weapons were intended for rebels in Assam state in India’s north-east, where insurgencies rumble on.For years in Bangladesh the legal case went nowhere. Those involved in the arms shipment were ignored. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), under Khaleda Zia, then prime minister, showed no interest in prosecutions. Only after the Awami League, the current government, took office in 2009 did prosecutors begin to consider the crime seriously. On January 30th a trial court sentenced 14 men—most of them from or affiliated to opposition parties—to death on smuggling charges related to the arms haul.Assuming the sentences are ...
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The Economist article
Bangladesh: The campaign trail
The Economist - about 3 years
“A COUP by instalments” is how a European diplomat describes efforts by Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, to extend her rule. The main opposition is to boycott a parliamentary election on January 5th. So Sheikh Hasina’s party, the Awami League, is assured of victory. Legitimacy is another matter.More than 100 people have died in political violence in the run-up to the vote. The latest deaths came after the execution on December 12th of Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist party. He was convicted, by a popular but deeply flawed tribunal, of war crimes during the bloody secession from Pakistan in 1971. On December 16th Bangladesh celebrated Victory Day, the end of the war. But hopes that Bangladesh might come to terms with its violent birth without spilling more blood have evaporated.Sheikh Hasina’s unpopular government has lost control of large parts of the country. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Sheikh Hasina’s nemes ...
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The Economist article
Memo From Bangladesh: Two Leaders’ Enmity Stokes Concern Over Vote in Fragile Democracy
NYTimes - about 3 years
The rivalry between the opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is eliciting international concern as elections loom and the country is tossed into chaos.     
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NYTimes article
Bangladesh sentences UK and US residents to death over war crimes
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan convicted in absentia of murdering 18 people during 1971 Pakistan war A special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced to death two men living in Britain and the US for crimes against humanity during the country's independence war against Pakistan in 1971. Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, who lives in Britain, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who is in New York, were found guilty by a three-judge panel of abducting and murdering 18 people, including nine university teachers, six journalists and three doctors, in December 1971. The two were convicted in absentia because they refused to return to Bangladesh to face trial. During the 1971 war the two men were members of Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic party allied to the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party, which is now headed by the former prime minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of the current PM, Sheikh Hasina. Hasina formed the special tribunal in 2010 to try war crimes suspects. A su ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Banyan: Zero-sum politics
The Economist - over 3 years
WRITING about politics in Bangladesh, this newspaper has often found itself drawn to the analogy of a Punch-and-Judy show. We now know this is deeply unfair—to a wholesome if brutal form of puppetry.On October 26th the two women who for over two decades have dominated politics in the Muslim-majority country of over 150m spoke on the telephone. It was their first conversation in many years. Their country was in crisis, on the brink of a 60-hour hartal, or national strike, called by one of them, Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). This was to protest about arrangements for a general election due in January. Knowing the hartal would bring not just disruption but violence and death, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, deigned to telephone her nemesis to ask her to call it off. It was a chance for the two women to prove they could set aside their history of vindictive point-scoring. They might even show leadership, statesmanship and a spirit of compro ...
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The Economist article
Opposition to reject polls under Hasina: Khaleda Zia
The Times of India - over 3 years
"If we go to the election (with Hasina remaining as the premier), BNP would be have lost credibility among the people," Zia said.     
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The Times of India article
Angela's Angels and the Political Patriarchy
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Angela Merkel has again become the most powerful woman in the world. Surveying the global map of female heads of government highlights some surprising realities about emancipation and the patriarchy. Angela Merkel has made it to a third term in office. Not being a fan of her conservative austerity politics and feeling that Germany, not to mention the EU as a whole, needs an injection of progressive radicalism, I had half-wished that the protest Pirate Party would, against the odds, force Germany to change political course. Still, I have some reason to rejoice. Merkel, as the leader of the EU's largest member state, remains the "most powerful woman" in the world. Merkel is the first woman in Germany to become chancellor, and now she's done that thrice over, in what has been described as the "Merkel miracle." This achievement is all the more impressive when you consider that Merkel -- a scientist and not a politician by training -- started off at a severe disadvantage in Germany's ...
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Huffington Post article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Khaleda Zia
  • 2016
    Age 69
    In 2016 BNP announced its new National Standing Committee, in which Khaleda retained her position as BNP Chairperson.
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  • 2009
    Age 62
    Sheikh Hasina became prime minister, and her party formed government in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details After several movements in a period of severe political unrest between 2012-2014 to prevent the ruling party to hold the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral care taker government, Khaleda led BNP and its alliances boycotted the election. Violence was reported in polling day including bombing of polling centers which Khaleda was accused of ordering.
  • 2007
    Age 60
    The government appealed this decision. On 4 October 2007 the Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled that Zia should not be granted bail and that the trial could continue.
    More Details Hide Details In December 2008, the caretaker government organized general elections where the Awami League and its Grand Alliance (with 13 smaller parties) took a two-thirds majority of seats in the parliament.
    On 30 September, Zia was granted bail by the High Court, which ruled that the trial should be stopped on the grounds that she could not be charged under emergency laws for actions that had occurred prior to the state of emergency being imposed in January 2007.
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    Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman (Coco) was released in August 2007, and her eldest son Tareque Rahman (Pino) was released on bail on 3 September 2007.
    More Details Hide Details Zia had been granted bail on two of her four cases by this point, but remained in jail because bail had not been granted for the other two. Her lawyers said on 4 September that they would also seek bail for the other two cases. Zia was released from jail on bail on 11 September 2008.
    On 11 January 2007, Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed, along with a group of military officers, intervened to stage a bloodless coup and impose a state of emergency.
    More Details Hide Details They compelled Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed to step down as Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh. He continued as the President of Bangladesh. Elections scheduled for 22 January were postponed. The new caretaker government was led by former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. In fighting against corruption, it filed charges against the leaders of both the major parties. Both parties had been widely accused of corruption when leading the government. In March 2007 Zia's eldest son, Tareque Rahman, was arrested for corruption. Enforcing the suppression of political activity under the state of emergency, from 9 April, the government barred politicians from visiting Zia's residence. Zia's youngest son, Arafat Rahman (Coco), was arrested for corruption on 16 April. United News Bangladesh (UNB) said in April there was speculation that Zia would relocate to Saudi Arabia. It noted her brother, Major (Retd.) Sayeed Iskandar, was trying to negotiate her exit from Bangladesh with the interim administration. The New Nation reported on 17 April that Zia had agreed to go into exile in return for the release of her youngest son. The report said the Saudi government had expressed its willingness to accept Khaleda and her family as royal guests.
  • 2006
    Age 59
    President Iajuddin Ahmed, as provided for in the constitution, assumed power as Chief Advisor on 29 October 2006. He tried to arrange elections and bring all political parties to the table during months of violence; 40 people were killed and hundreds injured in the first month after the government's resignation in November 2006.
    More Details Hide Details Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, the Presidential Advisor, met with Zia and Sheikh Hasina, and other political parties to try to resolve issues and schedule elections. Negotiations continued against a backdrop of political bickering, protests and polarisation that threatened the economy. Officially on 26 December 2006, all political parties joined the planned 22 January 2007 elections. The Awami League pulled out at the last minute, and in January the military intervened to back the caretaker government for a longer interim period. It held power until holding general elections in December 2008.
    On 29 October 2006, Zia's term in office ended.
    More Details Hide Details In accordance with the constitution, a caretaker government would manage in the 90-day interim before general elections. On the eve of the last day, rioting broke out on the streets of central Dhaka due to uncertainty over who would become Chief Advisor (head of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh). Under the constitution, the immediate past Chief Justice was to be appointed. But, Chief Justice Khondokar Mahmud Hasan (K M Hasan) declined the position.
    In 2006, Forbes magazine featured her administration in a major story praising her achievements.
    More Details Hide Details Her government worked to educate young girls (nearly 70% of Bangladeshi women were illiterate) and distribute food to the poor (half of Bangladesh's 135 million people live below the poverty line). Her government promoted strong GDP growth (5%) based on economic reforms and support of an entrepreneurial culture. When Zia became Prime Minister for the third time, the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh remained above 6 percent. The Bangladesh per capita national income rose to 482 dollars. Foreign exchange reserve of Bangladesh had crossed 3 billion dollars from the previous 1 billion dollars. The foreign direct investments of Bangladesh had risen to 2.5 billion dollars. The industrial sector of the GDP had exceeded 17 percent at the end of Zia's office.
    Following her government's term end in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and in-fighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government.
    More Details Hide Details During its interim rule, it charged Zia and her two sons with corruption. For the better part of the last two decades, Khaleda's chief rival has been Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina. The two women have alternated as non-interim prime ministers since 1991.
  • 2001
    Age 54
    Her party came to power again in 2001.
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  • 1996
    Age 49
    She also served briefly in the short-lived government in 1996, when other parties had boycotted the first election.
    More Details Hide Details In the next round of general elections of 1996, the Awami League came to power.
  • 1991
    Age 44
    The acting president Shahabuddin Ahmed granted Zia nearly all of the powers that were vested in the president at the time, effectively returning Bangladesh to a parliamentary system in September 1991.
    More Details Hide Details With a unanimous vote, Parliament passed the 12th amendment to the Constitution in 1991. The BNP-led government formally restored the parliamentary system. When the opposition boycotted the 15 February 1996 election, the BNP had a landslide victory in the sixth Jatiya Sangshad. Other major parties demanded that a neutral caretaker government be appointed to oversee the elections. The short-lived parliament hastily introduced the Caretaker Government by passing the 13th amendment to the Constitution. The parliament was dissolved to pave the way for parliamentary elections within 90 days. In the 12 June 1996 elections, BNP lost to Sheikh Hasina's Awami League. Winning 116 seats, the BNP emerged as the largest opposition party in the country's parliamentary history. The BNP formed a four-party alliance on 6 January 1999 to increase its chances to return to power in the next general elections. These included its former political foe the Jatiya Party, founded by President Ershad after he led a military government, and the Islamic parties of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and the Islami Oikya Jot. It encouraged protests against the ruling Awami League.
    She has been elected to five separate parliamentary constituencies in the general elections of 1991, 1996 and 2001.
    More Details Hide Details In its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, Forbes magazine ranked Zia at number 14 in 2004, number 29 in 2005, and number 33 in 2006.
    When she took office in 1991, she was the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world (after Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1988–1990) to head a democratic government as prime minister.
    More Details Hide Details Zia was the First Lady of Bangladesh during the presidency of her husband Ziaur Rahman. She is the chairperson and leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded by Rahman in the late 1970s. After a military coup in 1982, led by Army Chief General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, Zia helped lead the continuing movement for democracy until the fall of military dictator Ershad in 1990. Khaleda became prime minister following the victory of the BNP in the 1991 general election.
  • 1981
    Age 34
    Following his assassination in 1981, the Acting President Justice, Abdus Sattar, leased the house "for life" to Zia, for ৳101.
    More Details Hide Details When the Army took over the government, Lieutenant General Hussain Mohammad Ershad, Army Chief of Bangladesh and Chief Martial Law Administrator, confirmed this arrangement in 1982. After the BNP came to power in democratic elections in 1991, it did not disturb the arrangement. In November 2010, the Awami League government enforced existing law to reclaim the house where Zia had lived for nearly 40 years for a nominal cost. Zia moved to the house of her brother Sayeed Iskandar at Gulshan. Talks in China related to trade and prospective Chinese investment in Bangladesh, particularly the issue of financing Padma Bridge. At the beginning of 2012, the World Bank, a major prospective financier, had withdrawn, accusing government ministers of graft. The BNP announced that the Chinese funding for a second Padma Bridge was confirmed during her visit. Zia's India visit was considered notable as BNP had been considered to have been anti-India compared to its rival Awami League. At her meeting with Prime Minister Singh, Zia said her party wanted to work with India for mutual benefit, including the fight against extremism. Indian officials announced they had come to agreement with her to pursue a common geopolitical doctrine in the greater region to discourage terrorists.
  • 1960
    Age 13
    Zia was born to father Iskandar Majumder, a businessman, and mother Taiyaba Majumder in Dinajpur District in Bengal, British India (now in north-western Bangladesh). Khaleda Majumder married Ziaur Rahman in 1960, an Army officer who became the 7th President of Bangladesh in 1977. He ruled until 1981, when he was assassinated in a military coup. When President Ziaur Rahman was killed, Justice Abdus Sattar became chairman of the party and Zia the vice-chairman. When Sattar was ousted from the presidency by the military coup of 1982, Zia was elected chairperson.
    More Details Hide Details She thus became head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which her husband had founded in the late 1970s. She was active in opposing what she and her supporters considered the military autocracy of Ershad. During the autocratic rule of Hussain Muhammad Ershad the Bangladesh Nationalist Party formed a seven-party alliance. Zia was detained more than seven times because of her protests against Ershad. Zia came to power three times. She was the longest serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh as she served for 10 years. A neutral caretaker government in Bangladesh oversaw elections on 27 February 1991 that were broadly considered to be free, fair and truly democratic, following eight years of a military government. The BNP won 140 seats, 11 short of a majority. As it was the only party capable of forming a government, Zia was sworn in as the country's first female prime minister on 20 March with the support of a majority of the deputies in parliament.
  • 1945
    Age -2
    Her matriculation examination certificate lists a birth date of 9 August 1945.
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  • 1945
    Age -2
    Her marriage certificate lists 5 September 1945. Zia's passport indicates a birth date of 19 August 1945.
    More Details Hide Details Kader Siddiqui, a political ally of Khaleda urged her not to celebrate her birthday on 15 August. The High Court filed a petition against Khaleda Zia on this issue.
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