Bangladesh's opposition party accused the government on Tuesday of putting the health of their jailed leader at risk by refusing to let her personal doctors treat her inside prison.

Khaleda Zia, the 72-year-old leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) who was jailed in February for corruption, has been suffering complications from arthritis and is struggling to walk, doctors say.

A team of four government doctors from a state-run hospital in Dhaka have been treating Zia, a two-time former prime minister, in prison where she is serving her five-year sentence in isolation.

But her supporters want Zia's personal physicians given access to her cell.

The government has yet to respond to the request.

“The government is trying to break our leader's morale and it is taking a toll on her health,” BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed told AFP.

Mohammad Shamsuzzaman, an orthopaedic specialist at Dhaka Medical College Hospital who visited Zia as part of the government team, said her condition was not serious but her arthritis had worsened in prison.

“She has pain in hands and legs. She couldn't walk 50 metres without assistance,” he told AFP, adding she had also developed back pain.

Zia, an erstwhile ally turned fierce political rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, already suffered from arthritis, diabetes and knee replacements when she was sentenced to prison for embezzlement.

She has denied any wrongdoing. Her lawyers had sought her release on bail until an appeal is heard but a decision on this was postponed until next month.

Zia's supporters say the guilty sentence was politically motivated and designed to remove Hasina's chief opponent before a general election slated for December.

Last week a report by German think tank the Bertelsmann Foundation listed Bangladesh as a new autocracy, raising doubts about the credibility of the country's elections. The ruling Awami League has rejected the assertion.

Opinion

Editorial

More ‘prior actions’
Updated 30 Jun, 2022

More ‘prior actions’

It is crucial that the IMF reconsiders its stance and releases the funds at the earliest to calm uneasy markets.
Growing power crisis
30 Jun, 2022

Growing power crisis

THE country’s escalating power crisis risks exacerbating the law-and-order situation as people take to the streets...
Attack on polio team
30 Jun, 2022

Attack on polio team

THE threat of deadly violence never seems to diminish for health workers and police officials involved in...
System imbalance
Updated 29 Jun, 2022

System imbalance

Sagging under the weight of internal weaknesses, the political system once again seems to be wobbling towards disequilibrium.
BRICS exclusion
29 Jun, 2022

BRICS exclusion

FOR Pakistan’s sustained economic progress, it is essential for the country to maintain strong linkages with...
Covid resurgence
29 Jun, 2022

Covid resurgence

PAKISTAN is facing yet another wave of Covid-19 infections, with health experts predicting a surge in...