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Ex-dictator appeals for right to contest Bangladesh polls

Ex-dictator appeals for right to contest Bangladesh polls

A former military ruler barred from contesting Bangladesh's elections next month launched an appeal Friday for the right to be a candidate, his lawyer and a party colleague said.
The Election Commission on Wednesday rejected the application of former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad to contest five parliamentary seats in the Jan. 22 polls. A single candidate can run for multiple seats in Bangladesh.
Ershad's lawyer, Sheikh Sirajul Islam, said he filed an appeal Friday and a commission tribunal would hear it on Sunday.
"We have followed the course of law. We hope we'll get justice," said Ruhul Amin Howlader, secretary-general of Ershad's Jatiya Party.
Ershad was army chief when he came to power in a 1982 coup. He was ousted in a popular uprising in 1990 and has since been in and out of jail on a number of charges.
He faces a return to jail for two years in a decade-old multimillion-dollar corruption case after the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal against his High Court conviction.
Under the Constitution a person jailed for at least two years for a crime involving "moral turpitude" is banned from seeking elected office.
His lawyer, Islam, said Ershad has served his two years in prison already, while other cases were pending, and there was no reason for him to serve that term again.
"My client has no reason to be barred from contesting the election," Islam said.
On Thursday, Jatiya Party activists rallied and enforced a general strike across northern Bangladesh _ the Jatiya Party stronghold _ to protest the commission's decision.
The protests turned violent in Rangpur town, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Dhaka, when activists clashed with police and several people were injured.