Dhaka: Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina left for the United States on Thursday for medical treatment a day after she was released from jail pending trial on corruption charges, news reports said.
On Thursday, Hasina was seen leaving her husband's home in Dhaka's Dhanmondi residential district for the airport amid tight security while hundreds of supporters waited outside.
Many of the supporters also gathered outside the airport while senior party colleagues were allowed to see her off at the airport.
The ATN Bangla television station said that Hasina boarded a British Airways flight from Dhaka's Zia International Airport.
She would receive treatment of a hearing impairment, eye problem and high blood pressure, her Awami League party said on Wednesday.
Hasina was arrested last July on various charges of corruption and was freed Wednesday for eight weeks after 11 months of pretrial detention. No date has been set for her trial.
Hasina and her Awami League party have rejected the charges, saying they are politically motivated to prevent her from running in December elections.
Hasan Mahmud, a personal aide to Hasina, said on Thursday that the release was temporary but unconditional.
"She will definitely return to the country after her treatment completes," Mahmud said.
After the release, she held a meeting with four influential advisers of the military-backed interim government following a party meeting late Wednesday. Hasina also talked to Bangladesh's interim leader Fakhruddin Ahmed by phone during Wednesday's meeting.
Syed Ashraful Islam, Hasina's close political aide, later told reporters the party has decided to join a government-sponsored dialogue in the run-up to the national polls, expected to be held in December.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, one of the advisers, said the government hoped Hasina would guide her party to join the dialogue and national polls, and "everything will be solved through dialogue."
Political analysts and newspaper editorials see Hasina's release and the government talks as a positive sign for reconciliation in Bangladesh's continuing political crisis.
"Sheikh Hasina's release is obviously a sign of new and dramatic development in national politics," the English-language Daily Star daily said Thursday in an editorial.
"One factor that emerges clearly from the move is that the standoffness, perhaps even hostility, which in these last many months characterized relations between the
government and the political parties, has now led to breather for the nation," it said.
The interim government came to power in January last year by declaring a state of emergency after weeks of violent street protests over electoral reforms.
The government has launched a massive crackdown on corruption and arrested Hasina and her archrival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and Zia's two sons as well as many other businessmen and former bureaucrats. Zia also denies the charges.
Local media have indicated that Zia and her sons may also freed from pretrial detention following the example of Hasina's case.