Khaleda postpones Saudi visit, concern for leaders in jail

Khaleda postpones Saudi visit, concern for leaders in jail

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BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia who was scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday evening to perform Umrah has postponed her visit.
“Our chairperson goes to Saudi Arabia every Ramadan at the invitation of the Saudi King to perform Umrah, but she’s not going there this time,” BNP spokesman Asaduzzaman Ripon toldjournalists.
Explaining the reason behind the tour postponement, he said, “Many BNP senior leaders, including party acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and many other our leaders and activists are in jail. Under the circumstances, she has decided to not go to Saudi Arabia this Ramadan.”He, however, said Khaleda is likely to go to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah at her convenient time after eid.
Khaleda and her entourage were scheduled to leave her for Saudi Arabia in Emirates flight on Wednesday evening.
Party sources said Khaleda took the decision to shelve the Saudi tour plan after consultation with some party senior leaders on Tuesday night.
Khaleda goes to Saudi Arabia every Ramadan to perform Umrah and pass the last some days of the holy moth there in special prayers.
Party sources said BNP senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman and his wife and daughter, now in London, and her late son Arafat Rahman Koko’s wife and two daughters from Malaysia were scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia at the same time.
Tarique had a reunion with his mother during the last Ramadan as they performed Umrah and stayed in Saudi Arabia over a week.
A source close to the BNP chief said Khaleda and her family members and some party men every year perform Umrah and stay Saudi Arabia as royal guests.
This year Khaleda and 12 others sought visa to go to the country as royal guests, but the Saudi Embassy approved only Khaleda and six others as the state guests.
Later, Khaleda requested the embassy to approve three to four members of her family as royal guests.
As she did not get any positive response from the embassy, she finally decided not to go to Saudi Arabia now.
A BNP senior leader wishing anonymity said Khaleda may change her mind if the embay gives its positive response to the BNP chief’s request by Thursday.
Another party source said Tarique’s arrival in Saudi is uncertain due to complications over getting visa. “It might be one of the main reasons that prompted Khaleda to postpone her visit.”
Contacted, Khaleda’s Middle East affairs adviser Enamul Haque Chowdhury said, “All necessary preparations for Madam’s visit to Saudi Arabia have been completed, but she’s not going tonight.”
Asked when the BNP chief may fly, he said it will be finalised on Wednesday night.- UNB

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