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Ershad in suicide threat with pistols

- Security forces rattle former President

Dhaka, Dec. 5 (PTI): Former Bangladesh President H.M. Ershad today threatened to kill himself after security forces overnight surrounded his residence. It came two days after his dramatic decision to boycott next month’s polls.

“I have loaded four pistols... I told the government I will kill myself if they play any tricks with me,” Ershad told a private television channel at his up market Gulshan residence after midnight last night.

“I will die before the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) or the police can lay a finger on me,” Ershad, 83, said, before making a trigger-pulling gesture towards his head.

Ershad on Tuesday said the Jatiya Party — a key ally of the Awami League-led alliance — will not participate in the January 5 general elections. It raised questions over the credibility of the polls which is also being boycotted by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies.

A large number of security forces massed outside Ershad’s home last night, fuelling speculation that the general was about to be arrested.

Police said in view of the evolving situation, security had been intensified around the former President’s house for his “own safety”. However, Jatiya Party sources said security forces cordoned off Ershad’s house as the government tried to pressurise him to revise his decision of boycotting the polls.

Ershad, who ran the country for nine years after assuming power in a bloodless coup in 1982, stayed away from the polls because of the lack of a “proper atmosphere” and ordered the resignation of six cabinet ministers from the alliance. He also ordered the withdrawal of nominees from the coming elections.

According to analysts, Ershad could appear as the main Opposition if the elections were held discarding the BNP-led Opposition alliance with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being its major partner.

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