DHAKA: Bangladesh’s army-backed interim government has stepped up a nationwide crackdown on corruption, giving soldiers sweeping powers to raid suspects’ homes and confiscate property.
A circular issued late on Sunday said a top adviser to the country’s interim government, retired Major-General M.A. Matin, would be chairman of a National Anti-Corruption Coordination Committee authorised to issue arrest warrants, summon documents and even seek suspect deposits from foreign banks.
Major-General Masud Uddin Chowdhury has been named chief coordinator of the 16-member committee, which includes senior military and intelligence officials, officers of the elite Rapid Action Battalion force, police and key government functionaries.
The committee is to intensify a hunt for corrupt politicians and others as part of the interim government’s efforts to organise a free and fair election.
Fakhruddin Ahmed, a former central bank governor and current head of the Interim Government, has said political corruption was the main obstacle to good governance and improving the country’s international image.
Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since Jan. 11 and army-led security forces have since detained at least 160 senior politicians for graft and misuse of power.
They include Tareque Rahman, the son of most recent Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. Tareque is also senior joint secretary-general of Khaleda’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The detainees include 15 former ministers from both the BNP and its rival Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina who is also a former prime minister.
The interim government took over late in October after Khaleda ended her five-tear term as prime minister.
A general election scheduled for Jan. 22 was postponed in the wake of politically-related violence that killed 45 people and injured hundreds.