Bangladesh govt to evict ex-PM Zia from home

DHAKA (AFP) - The Bangladeshi cabinet, lead by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, announced Wednesday that former premier Khaleda Zia would be evicted from the house she has lived in for 28 years, an official said. The two women, who have ruled the nation alternately for almost two decades, are frequently referred to as the battling begums for their long-standing personal animosity. The cabinet has decided to cancel the lease on the home in the army cantonment currently occupied by the leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia, Hasinas spokesman, Abul Kalam Azad, told AFP. Hasina first raised the idea in parliament last week and said Zia was living in the house illegally. Hasina, who came to power with a landslide victory in December elections and holds a three-quarters majority in parliament, said the government would build apartments on the grounds around the house. The new homes would be given to the families of army officers slain in the February mutiny at another military base in the capital. Khaleda Zia, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has lived on the army base since 1981, after her husband Ziaur Rahman, a former military chief and then president, was killed in an attempted coup. Before the recent elections, Bangladesh was ruled for two years by a military-backed government which jailed both Hasina and Zia for a year on charges of corruption. They were released on bail in deals with the army to ensure they took part in the elections. The army took control because squabbling between their party supporters degenerated into deadly street violence.

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