Bangladesh Opposition Leader Leaves Office in 3 Months

Bangladesh Opposition Leader Leaves Office in 3 MonthsBangladesh Opposition Leader Leaves Office in 3 Months

Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia left her office Sunday for the first time in three months in a sign of easing tensions after deadly protests had plunged the country into a political crisis.

Zia, 69, was taken by car to a court where she surrendered and secured bail in two graft cases against her. Security was tight with hundreds of police and border guards surrounding the court, AFP reported.

Authorities had confined her inside her office compound in an upscale district of Dhaka on January 3, after she threatened to lead a massive anti-government rally through the capital on the first anniversary of a disputed national election.

A judge issued an arrest warrant against the former prime minister in late February after she repeatedly failed to attend hearings in the graft cases.

Zia had threatened to lead the rally in the capital on the first anniversary of the general election on January 5, 2014.

The BNP and a 20-party opposition alliance which she leads had boycotted the election because it was not held under a neutral caretaker administration, as in the past.

Police padlocked her office’s front gate, used pepper spray on her as she tried to leave the compound, and parked ten trucks loaded with sand and bricks outside the gate to block the exit.

Security was relaxed weeks later and authorities said she was free to leave -- although the BNP said she was still confined to her office.

Restrictions on entering the office compound remained. More than a dozen people were arrested as they tried to meet Zia or bring in food for her.

While confined to her office, a defiant Zia urged supporters to enforce a nationwide transport blockade.

The stoppage was intended to force her bitter rival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to quit and pave the way for a new general election under a neutral administration.