February 1996 Awami League one of the two main parties dominating Bangladeshi politics, boycotts the upcoming elections. Bangladesh National Party (BNP), Awami League's opponent, wins the elections. Nevertheless, BNP's leader, Khaleda Zia, is forced to resign later in March. Following Zia's resignation, the Awami League wins the elections and comes into power.
Jan. 9, 1997 After six years of imprisonment for corruption and illegal weapons possession, former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad is freed. Ershad, who had been appointed president in 1982, stepped down in 1990 after mass protests.
December 1998 After losing the elections, BNP's leader Zia calls for a strike in protest, asserting that there was 'massive ballot rigging' which led to her defeat. Due to this strike, most businesses and schools close down. This is the 11th BNP-organized strike since Awami League party leader Sheikh Hasina took office in June 1996.
Road transport between the capital city Dhaka and the rest of the country is suspended for 72 hours. Transport operators complain political parties and other influential groups frequently threaten them and extort money from them if they refuse to close down roads.
July 1999 Ruling party Awami League awards more than 300 plots of government land to members of its party and alliances. Recipients of the plots will not be subject to the market price and, in fact, will pay far less. Housing Minister Mosharraf Hossain claims the plots have been distributed for legitimate reasons.
Human Rights groups assert that this has been a customary practice in the past, where current administrations give their supporters land in return for their allegiance.
January 2000 The government approves a new security law that gives government officials far-reaching powers of arrest and detention. It allows for the setup of special tribunals to bring enemies of the state to justice more quickly.
The media, human rights groups, lawyers, and the BNP opposition party denounce it as a "black law," because the current administration can use it to target and try political opponents in court and suppress social upheaval by workers and the poor.
Jan. 25, 2001 Award-winning freelance writer Tipu Sultan is abducted and is violently beaten by bodyguards of Minister Joynal Hazari for accusing him of criminal activity and corruption. After having his hands and feet smashed, Sultan is left deserted on the road to die, yet the young journalist survives.
Hazari was allegedly involved in an arson attack on a school in the southern district of Feni. Although tangible proof of his involvement is well documented in local media, authorities have refrained from prosecuting Hazari.
October 2001 The NGO Affairs Bureau, functioning under the control of Zia, stalls funds worth US$61.7 million to some of the largest pioneering NGOs in the country. The NGOs have been accused of financing Bangladesh's leading opposition party, Awami League. The Intelligence Bureau and Anti-Corruption Bureau, South Asian nation's top investigative agencies, have not found substantial evidence proving misuse of foreign funds.
Activities of the targeted NGOs are moving very slowly. A project of the largest NGO in Bangladesh, Proshika, which began in 1999, was intended to benefit around 700,000 rural children, but due to the blockage of funds the project has made minimal progress.
November 2001 A law that provided former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Seikh Rehana lifelong security is abolished.
Nov. 22, 2001 Documentary filmmaker and newspaper columnist Shahriar Kabir is arrested for reporting on massive attacks against Bangladesh's Hindu minority community shortly after the elections. Supporters of the ruling BNP are allegedly responsible for these attacks and target Hindus partly because of their allegiance to the opposition party Awami League.
The BNP is partner of a four-party coalition government, including two religious parties, Jamaat -e-Islam and Islami Oikya Jote, known for their intolerance of press freedom.
May 2002 Kushtia correspondent for the national Bengali-language daily Manavzamin, Nazmul Imam, is attacked by five gangsters who seize his money and cell phone, cut off his right thumb, and stab him repeatedly in his arms, back and waist. Imam writes about the links between drugs, crime and politicians in the western Kushtia region.
July 29, 2003 Bangladesh bans the current issue of Newsweek's international edition, which features an article that questions Islamic doctrine and advocates revision of Islam's holy book.
2004 According to Transparency International, two thirds of people who used a lower court in 2004, paid bribes of as much as 25 percent of their average annual income.
January 2004 Manik Saha, a Bangladeshi reporter for the New Age newspaper and the BBC is killed when unidentified assailants throw a bomb at him while he is riding in a rickshaw. Saha was a prominent journalist who wrote about crime and denounced the operations of gangs in the Khulna region.
January 2005 In a grenade attack at a political rally, Shah AMS Kibria, a well-known Awami League politician, is killed. Following the attack, the political party protests by calling for a general strike.
February 2006 Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina announces the end of her 13-month boycott of parliamentary elections. Awami League accuses BNP leader Khaleda Zia of corruption and incompetence and demands her to step down. Awami League claims BNP has allegedly drawn up a list of fake voter names and has appointed political allies to the interim government, which is supposed to carry out the electoral process in January 2007.
May 2006 Several cases of legal action, along with physical threats and violence, provokes three journalists to flee the western town of Kushtia. Journalists from Dhaka and other cities gather in Kushtia to protest this unfair treatment of their colleagues.
Shahidul Islam, BNP lawmaker, halts the printing of the local newspaper Dainik Andolaner Bazar and threatens journalists after they published reports claiming Islam's involvement in corruption, earlier in May. He also files cases of extortion against them, asserting that the journalists had demanded bribes to not print the stories.
At the protest rallies BNP activists assault the journalists by throwing bricks, stones and chairs eventually wounding 25 journalists without any noticeable police intervention. Nine days after the attacks, the police still make no arrests and the local newspapers remain closed.
November 2006 The election commission sets Jan. 21, 2007, as the date for the next general elections. Opposition party Awami League and their allies reject the decision claiming that electoral reforms were not carried out before the decision was made. The Awami League organizes protests bringing chaos onto the streets of the capital city, Dhaka.
November 2006 MA Aziz, election chief of the interim government, steps down and the interim government manages to eliminate a voter list that contains millions of fake voter names. Issues of widespread corruption, violent crime, high rates of inflation and poverty are brought to the surface in anticipation of the 2007 elections.
Jan. 12, 2007 Former Bangladeshi Central Bank Governor Fakruddin Ahmed is sworn in as the head of the new interim government. He initiates an intense anti-graft probe, aiming to rid the country of corrupt figures and ease the tense situations on the streets in preparation for the upcoming election.
March 8, 2007 Security forces of the interim government arrest six politicians, among them former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son, Tareque Rahman. He is charged with extorting US$186,000.
April 11, 2007 Hasina is accused of the murder of four members of BNP, her rival political party, during political violence in October 2006. Zia is put under house arrest, and many other politicians are held in an anti-corruption drive.
April 18 2007 Bangladesh's military-backed interim government exiles opposition leader Hasina.
April 22 2007 Zia is exiled from Bangladesh. She leaves for Saudi Arabia.
May 2007 Hasina and Zia manage to return to Bangladesh as the military-backed interim government abandons its plans of sending both of them in exile. The two political figures are still under investigation for corruption and murder.
June 21 2007 State minister for Labor and Employment in the previous administration of Zia, Amanullah Aman, is found guilty on charges of extortion, illegal land acquisition and assisting businessmen to receive large government contracts. He is sent to jail for 13 years.