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18 Oct 12:54 AM UTC

Bangladesh: Former PM Zia to return Oct. 18; protests likely /update 1

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is set to return to Bangladesh on October 18; demonstrations likely

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/19/2017, 9:42 AM until 10/19/2017, 9:42 AM (Asia/Dhaka).

COUNTRY/REGION Bangladesh

Event

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia is due to return to Bangladesh on Wednesday, October 18, after completing medical treatment in London. Zia is scheduled to arrive at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) at 17:20 (local time). Party officials announced a "grand reception" for Zia at the airport, but did not provide further details.

As Zia is the subject of two arrest warrants, supporters may clash with security officials both at the airport and on the streets of Dhaka should she be arrested on arrival. Zia is scheduled to appear at court in Dhaka on Thursday, October 19. Demonstrations by BNP supporters are likely to take place in major cities nationwide in the coming days. An increased security presence is likely and violence cannot be ruled out.

Context

Zia was Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006. On October 11, two courts issued warrants for Zia's arrest, one on charges of corruption, and the other in connection with a bomb attack on a bus in Chouddagram in 2015. Zia's supporters claim that the charges are politically motivated, and that the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is trying to find a reason to bar Zia from participating in 2019 general elections. The BNP held marches and rallies in multiple cities nationwide on October 14 to protest the warrants against Zia.

Advice

Individuals in the country are advised to avoid all protests due to the risk of violence. More generally, due to a high risk of terrorism in Bangladesh, travelers are advised to exercise vigilance when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.) and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.