A file picture of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia sitting inside a car. EFE/EPA/FILE/MONIRUL ALAM

Ailing Bangladesh former PM advised liver transplant abroad

Dhaka, Oct 9 (EFE).– Physicians in Bangladesh on Monday advised former prime minister Khaleda Zia of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to undergo liver transplant abroad as they had “exhausted” all medical options available for her in the country.

“The real situation is very complex and difficult. Our medical board and all those involved in it are keeping her under close observation round the clock,” Fakhruddin Mohammad Siddiqui, a member of her medical board, said at a press conference in Dhaka.

“But we have reached a point where all our medical options are almost exhausted. We have no choice,” he stressed.

“Today, I want to inform all concerned on behalf of the medical board that there is still time. If she is taken to an advanced multidisciplinary center abroad for a liver transplant…we can improve her condition,” the doctor said.

The 78-year-old former prime minister has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and is suffering from multiple health complexities. She has been undergoing treatment at a hospital for over two months.

The government released Zia, the chairperson of the BNP, and suspended her jail sentences in two graft cases in March 2020, but has banned her from leaving the country.

Zia, the political rival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has since refrained from any political activities.

Her elder son, Tarique Rahman, in exile in London since 2008 and who has been convicted in multiple cases, is serving as the acting party chairman in the absence of his mother.

The BNP has been demanding the government to release her and allow her to travel outside the country for treatment.

Zia’s family also has been appealing to the government to relax the conditions of her release. On Oct. 1, the government had dismissed such a petition from Zia’s family.

Law Minister Anisul Huq had then told reporters that Zia would have to return to jail and make a fresh application for the appeal to be considered.

The BNP has accused the government of acting out of political vengeance.

In February 2018, a special court sentenced Zia to five years in jail for misappropriating funds worth $200,000 meant for an orphanage.

The High Court doubled her sentence from five to 10 years in October 2018 following an appeal by the anti-corruption agency.

A court earlier sent her to jail for seven years in a separate graft case.

Prime Minister Hasina’s Awami League secured a landslide victory in the general elections held on Dec. 30, 2019.

The BNP could only secure seven seats amid alleged fraud and persecution by the ruling disposition.

The BNP and the Awami League have taken turns in power since 1991, except for a brief period of military rule between 2006 and 2008.

A general election is due in January next year, but the BNP says it will not participate in it until Hasina steps down and forms a caretaker government to conduct the election. EFE