DHAKA – The vice president of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Tarique Rahman, has taken over as the party’s chairman after his mother was sentenced to five years in prison, a BNP source told EFE on Friday.
The decision to elevate Rahman – the exiled son of opposition leader and ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia – to the chairmanship was taken after a special court in Dhaka sentenced Zia on Thursday to five years in prison on charges of misappropriation of funds from an orphanage trust.
“As per the party constitution, Tarique Rahman has become the acting chairman since yesterday evening. He will discharge his duties as the constitution stipulates,” BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon told EFE.
Rahman, who has lived in exile in the United Kingdom since 2008, was also given a 10-year jail term in the same ruling.
The ex-prime minister’s son had been sentenced to seven years in prison in 2016 on charges of laundering $2.5 million between 2003-2007.
The BNP spokesperson said that Rahman’s exile would not affect his leadership.
“Party leaders and activists are aware under what circumstances he is living in the UK, so it will not be a problem. He will run the party in consultation with standing committee members and other leaders,” Asaduzzaman said.
Rahman’s mother – who headed the Bangladeshi government twice (between 1991-1996 and 2001-2006) – has been named in 13 cases of corruption, violence and sedition, and according to the BNP, hundreds of its activists and leaders face the same situation.
The BNP, which is currently absent from the country’s parliament, boycotted the 2014 general elections after the government, led by Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League, did away with the system of an interim government, which over the last few decades supervised elections in the country.
The BNP and the Awami League have alternately shared power in the country since 1991, except for a brief period of military rule between 2006-2008.