Bangladesh - Leadership

The cycle of accusations, recriminations, strikes, and political violence from the rivalry between the BNP and Awami League has continued to plague Bangladeshi politics. With a four-party alliance of parties, Khaleda Zia was heading one of the stronger coalitions in the country's history. Upon taking office, she announced a 100-day plan to implement her election promises, notably the restoration of law and order and a climate of peace and security. She had mixed results in that effort. Zia's chronic rivalry with Sheikh Hasina resulted in nearly every governmental action having polarizing partisan implications. In November 2002, opposition Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed was arrested without charges, a detention described by Ahmed as a "political vendetta," and journalists who had criticized Zia's administration were arrested under the Special Powers Act. Despite Bangladesh's democratic framework, Khaleda Zia seemed unable to tolerate dissent and appeared increasingly autocratic in her leadership style.

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