The United Nations has called on all sides in Bangladesh to maintain calm as riots broke out following the sentencing of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to jail in a corruption case.

We are just monitoring what the latest developments regarding this verdict and we expect that we will say something more once we have evaluated the situation, Farhan Aziz Haq, the deputy spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said on Thursday while responding to a question at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

It is too early to judge what impact this will have (on the forthcoming elections), he added. But we do continue to call for an inclusive and democratic process in the country.

We call on all sides to maintain calm, he added.

Mrs. Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was found guilty of embezzling $252,000 from a trust created for an orphanage, a charge she had dismissed as politically motivated.

Her son Tarique Rahman and four others were also convicted in the case and given ten years in prison.

Clashes were reported between security forces and her supporters who had defied security measures to escort the car taking Zia to court.