Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 15:03 UK

Eviction notice for Khaleda Zia

Khaleda Zia
Ms Zia was given the house by a grateful nation, her supporters say

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has had the lease on her Dhaka cantonment residence cancelled, the cabinet has announced.

"The house was allocated to her without a decision of the cabinet in 1981. The present cabinet believes that the lease is illegal," a spokesman said.

Current PM Sheikh Hasina was removed from her leased house near parliament when Khaleda Zia came to power in 2001.

Correspondents say Ms Zia's eviction is partly in revenge for that move.

Martial law

"Under the lease rules, two houses cannot be allotted to one person. Since one house [the cantonment mansion] was given away in 1981 and then another in 1982, [the cabinet] has decided to cancel one," Prime Ministerial Office spokesman Abul Kalam Azad said.

Sheikh Hasina gives a victory sign after casting her vote in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 December 2008
Sheikh Hasina and her allies won a stunning election victory

The 2.72-acre mansion was originally the official home of the army chief, a position held by Ms Zia's husband, Lt Gen Zia, who then converted himself into a civilian head of state through martial law proclamations.

When he was assassinated in May 1981, the house was "inherited" by Ms Zia, whose Bangladesh Nationalist Party was soundly beaten in elections last December.

The decision to terminate her lease follows a statement by Sheikh Hasina in parliament last week in which she said that she wanted Ms Zia to leave the house so that residential apartment blocks could be built on the site for the families of army officers killed in a border guards mutiny in February.

"Why should you, being a political leader, live in the [army] cantonment? You were allotted another in Gulshan [an up-market area of Dhaka]," Sheikh Hasina asked her rival in parliament during an acrimonious debate on 1 April.

"No member of parliament, no leader of the opposition, should live in the cantonment," she said.

However supporters of the opposition have accused the government of being mean and playing "tit-for-tat politics" over the eviction order.

They point out that the murder of Gen Zia was so sudden that he left little or no cash for his widow or for his two sons - Tarique and Arafat Rahman.

Ms Zia's supporters say that the house was given to her after his death to provide a regular source of income following a wave of national sympathy for her plight.

Sheikh Hasina was evicted from her leased house when the BNP won elections in 2001 but has since moved back into it.

The two women have a long history of personal enmity.

Print Sponsor

Khaleda Zia rejects 'rigged' poll
30 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Bangladesh stunned by Awami victory
30 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Hasina urged to build on victory
30 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Hasina wins Bangladesh landslide
30 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Q&A: Bangladesh elections
17 Dec 08 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific