As national elections near, Bangladesh's government is reportedly locking up workers from the opposition party

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As national elections near, Bangladesh's government is reportedly locking up workers from the opposition party

  • The Awami League, which is led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has reportedly locked up 1,972 workers from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the past month.
  • The BNP’s spokesperson, Rizvi Ahmed, said that the Awami League had fabricated a number of cases against party leaders and officials in order to have them arrested.
  • After the ruling party was granted a walkover in 2014, it was widely believed that this round of national elections would be well-contested despite the fact that the head of the BNP Khaleda Zia has been imprisoned on corruption charges.

It seems that the party currently running Bangladesh, the Awami League, is doing what it can to retain power as the 30 December deadline for national elections nears.

The party, which is led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has reportedly locked up 1,972 workers from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the past month, according to media reports.

The BNP’s spokesperson, Rizvi Ahmed, said that the Awami League had fabricated a number of cases against party leaders and officials in order to have them arrested. The arrests will likely prevent people from coming out to vote for the opposition. In fact, it has also been reported that police officials are campaigning in favour of the Awami League in some parts of the country.
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That is unfortunate. After the ruling party was granted a walkover in 2014, it was widely believed that this round of national elections would be well-contested despite the fact that the head of the BNP Khaleda Zia has been imprisoned on trumped-up corruption charges.

Zia was eventually barred from participating in elections when the Bangladesh Electoral Commission rejected an appeal from her camp last week. She has, however, filed a follow-up motion appealing the decision.

As the BNP complains about the arrest of its supporters, the Awami League has also alleged that the BNP is in cahoots with the Pakistani government with several leaders from the party meeting officials from the Pakistani High Commission in the past week.
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Meanwhile, the Indian government will be watching the elections closely. Given BNP’s history of anti-India rhetoric, India is likely pinning its hopes on Hasina’s re-election.

An alliance of opposition parties

Hasina’s bid for a third consecutive term will be hindered by an opposition alliance comprised of the BNP, the Jatiya Oikya Prokriya (JOP) and regional parties.
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BNP has so far announced the names of 242 of its own candidates for the upcoming elections, while an additional 58 candidates have been picked following discussions with its alliance partners. It is counting on a wave of resentment against the Awami League for its supposedly authoritarian policies and crackdown on dissenters.

However, the BNP is yet to announce a prime ministerial candidate to run against Hasina even though the alliance is led by JOP leader Kamal Hossain, a former stalwart of the Awami League. It will likely make a decision once the question of Zia’s candidacy is settled once and for all.

In a bid to ensure that the elections are carried out peacefully and fairly, the US is reportedly sending a team of observers to Bangladesh, which will fan out across the country to survey the ground situation as voting commences.
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SEE ALSO:

After a walkover in 2014, Bangladesh’s ruling party will finally face an opposition in next month’s general elections
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