Bangladesh's army-backed interim government released former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia on bail today after a year in prison. This is important for Bangladesh because it paves the way for a credible election and a restoration of democracy.
STORY: Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia was arrested on September 3 2007 on graft charges, but the High Court granted her bail on September 9th of this year. Khaleda and her rival, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, were both arrested and have now both been released. Hasina and Khaleda took turns governing Bangladesh for 15 years until January 2007 when an interim government took over. The politicians deny any wrongdoing and accuse the interim government of harassing politicians. Analysts say their release will ensure their parties take part in a parliamentary election planned for December and will help elections be fair and peaceful. The government moved to bail Khaleda after diplomats, analysts and civil society leaders said no credible election could be held if she remained behind bars, because her party would boycott and try to thwart it. Thousands of her supporters and party leaders greeted her after she came out of the jail. About 170 key politicians, mostly from Khaleda's BNP and Hasina's Awami League, were detained in a huge anti-corruption drive after the interim administration imposed a state of emergency and cancelled a national election in January 2007. Over the past two months more than 50 of the detained leaders, have been freed on bail.