The high court of Bangladesh has sentenced the former military ruler, Gen Hussein Muhammad Ershad, to two years in jail for corruption.
The general could hold the balance of power
Correspondents say that while it is unlikely the general will end up in prison, it could jeopardise his ability to stand in forthcoming elections.
Both main political parties are eager to get the support of his Jatiya party.
The general seized power in 1982 coup, but later lifted martial rule, when he was elected to a five-year term.
Since leaving office, the general has faced numerous trials for abuse of power and corruption.
He has already served five years in jail for corruption.
The army have been deployed to stop street protests
But despite the numerous cases filed against him, he succeeded in forming his own party and may even hold the balance of power if general elections in January are close.
Correspondents say that general has recently been equivocal about which of the main two parties - the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League - he will support.
Before the BNP relinquished power in October to a caretaker government, he indicated that he would support them.
But since the interim administration assumed power, he has hinted that he may swap sides and support the Awami League.
On Thursday the administration sought talks with both main parties to end the crisis over next month's polls.
Awami League protesters demanding electoral reforms staged rallies despite facing soldiers on the streets.
Riot police stopped supporters of the 14-party alliance led by the League from marching on election offices in several towns and cities outside the capital.
The protesters say that the election commission is biased in favour of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and have demanded the removal of two commissioners who they say favour the BNP.