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Bangladesh PM attacks commission

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina has called for reform of the anti-corruption commission

Bangladesh's new prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has accused officials of the country's anti-corruption commission of abusing their powers.

During the rule of the previous government, the commission was responsible for jailing more than 150 leading politicians.

But most charges, including those against Sheikh Hasina, have been dropped, and the politicians released.

The prime minister says that the organisation should be reconstituted.

Bangladesh's last military-backed government pledged to do all it could to rid the country of corruption before organising elections in December.

Most Bangladeshis couldn't believe what they were seeing when the anti-corruption mission, headed by an energetic former army chief, arrested politician after politician.

Some of the evidence against them was compelling, but not all of it, and when Bangladesh's two party leaders, and former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were jailed, many people started to believe that the army was using the drive against corruption to cement its position in power.

In the end, it backed down and most detainees were released to stand in the elections.

Accountability

Sheikh Hasina has now said the commission should be reconstituted so that its activities become transparent and accountable.

She accused it of harassing innocent people and forcing them to make false allegations. She also told parliament that some detainees had been released after paying bribes to anti-corruption officials.

Their chief, Hasan Masood Chowdhury has not commented directly on Sheikh Hasina's comments but he did say that the commission was not guilty of political manipulation and had always just been doing its job.

The prime minister doesn't actually have the power to reform the organisation but some see this as an attempt to get Hasan Masood Chowdhury and his key aides to resign.

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