Medical board examines health of Khaleda | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2008

A Day After Hasina, Koko

Medical board examines health of Khaleda

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In an apparent revival of the much talked about 'minus two formula' of the caretaker government, a process has been initiated again to send two detained former premiers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia abroad 'for treatment'.
Highly placed sources hinted that AL President Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson's son Koko, who is also in detention, will leave the country soon 'for treatment' abroad, while BNP chief Khaleda's departure remains uncertain as she is unwilling to leave the country.
A five-member medical board, formed by the government, examined BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a makeshift special jail yesterday afternoon as the government authorities claim that she is suffering from various health complications.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG Prisons) Maj Shamsul Haider Siddiqui told reporters that the newly formed medical board led by Prof Saleh Ahmed, an eye specialist, examined Khaleda in the afternoon in presence of prison guards.
The doctor said the board also inquired about her health complications during almost an hour of medical check up beginning around 4:00pm.
On Thursday, the government formed two other five-member medical boards, one led by Dr Syed Maruf Ali for AL President Sheikh Hasina, and the other led by Dr Mustafizur Rahman for Arafat Rahman Koko.
Dr Maruf, chief of the board formed for the AL chief, said yesterday that they will recommend better treatment for her and will suggest changing her hearing aid.
The sources said all three medical boards might submit their final reports on Monday.
The latest government initiative for sending abroad 'for treatment' the two detained chiefs of the two largest political parties of the country, came to the forefront of the military backed caretaker government's political manoeuvring, after both AL and BNP had made their release the principal condition for sitting in the ongoing politico-electoral dialogues with the government.
Welcoming the government initiative, Syed Ashraful Islam, acting general secretary of AL, yesterday said Hasina's release is their main demand, and the government move to send her abroad will pave the way for AL's participation in the dialogues as well as in the much demanded upcoming ninth parliamentary election.
About the medical board formed for Khaleda, BNP Joint Secretary General Nazrul Islam Khan, told The Daily Star last night, "The people will come to know about Khaleda Zia's real condition after the recommendations of the medical board is made public, the people has the right to know."
"We know our chairperson well. But she is in government custody now, so only the government knows her condition," he said when asked about her possible departure from the country.
Other BNP sources said the detained party chairperson however remains rigid on her earlier stance of not leaving the country. She, however, wants to send her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko abroad for treatment, as he is suffering from numerous ailments.
Koko has been detained on corruption charges,
BNP leaders fear that the government might 'force Khaleda to leave the country in the name of treatment using the report of the medical board', which they believe is not independent, although Khaleda has also been suffering from numerous ailments including arthritis for a long time.
AL President Sheikh Hasina on the other hand wants to go abroad for treatment as she is also suffering from numerous ailments including an acute hearing problem. If finally the two top political leaders go abroad for treatment, Sheikh Hasina will stay in London with her sister for a while and then she will fly to the US, sources in her family said.
Earlier, following a government initiative to bring major political parties in a series of dialogues with it, the authorities started to look into ways to release, either conditionally or unconditionally, the two detained former premiers who are also the chiefs of the two largest political parties, which have traditionally been archrivals of each other.
Over the last few weeks, unofficial talks were held between various levels of the government and the two detained political leaders in special jails, where they have been kept since their arrests, the sources claimed.
Neither any government authority nor the parties of the detained leaders however made anything public till last night.

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