Bangladesh's BNP opposition party in dire straits as leader's health deteriorates

With aging leader Khaleda Zia critically ill in the hospital amid an ongoing crackdown on political opposition by the ruling Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party's future looks grim.

Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh's first female prime minister and archrivalof current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was admitted to the critical care unit of a Dhaka hospital this month.

The 76-year-old former prime minister and leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been suffering from several chronic and life-threatening diseases.

"She has chronic liver disease, among other problems that can't be treated in Bangladesh. She urgently needs treatment in a developed country like Germany," Zia's personal physician AZM Zahid Hossain told DW.

However, Zia is not allowed to leave Bangladesh after having been convicted and jailed on graft charges in 2018.

At the time, her supporters said the charges were a politically motivated attempt to keep her from seeking power. In March 2020, the government allowed Zia to be released from prison as her health began to worsen.

The BNP is trying to convince Hasina's ruling Awami League government to allow Zia to go abroad to receive treatment. However, Hasina has yet to agree. BNP supporters in Dhaka protested Zia's travel ban this week.