U.N. hails Bangladesh's anti-graft drive

DHAKA (Reuters) - The United Nations Development Programme has lauded a drive launched in Bangladesh by the army-backed interim government early last year against widespread corruption.

The UNDP said in a report on Tuesday the drive, which has made significant progress in the past 18 months, should continue to further reduce corruption.

“The (anti-corruption) efforts have sent a powerful message to the Bangladesh public that corruption can no longer be tolerated ...,” said UNDP Resident Representative Renata Dessallien.

The interim authority detained more than 170 key political and business figures, including former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia for alleged corruption, after it took charge in January 2007.

The interim authority came to power after months of political violence and a series of crippling strikes called by bickering political parties.

To prepare the report, UNDP interviewed Anti-Corruption Commission officials and other experts, went through case studies, made field visits and conducted statistical surveys.

“The ACCs achievements to date have been monumental. Very few commissions in other countries have made as much progress in such a short time frame,” said Michael Th. Johnson, an international anti-crime expert for the United Nations.