Massive Opposition Protest in Dhaka Ahead of Bangladesh General Elections

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) stages a massive protest in Dhaka, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government

Dhaka: Ahead of the general elections set to be held on January 7 in Bangladesh, the country's opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) staged a massive protest in Dhaka's Paltan area.

Protestors expressed their refusal to engage in the electoral process unless a caretaker government is implemented. The protestors, chanting slogans in Bengali, emphasised that elections are not mere child's play. They shouted slogans like "Sheikh Hasina vote chor" to voice their concerns.

BNP issued a call for a 48-hour nationwide 'hartal' (general strike) commencing from today to demand resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's "illegal government," the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Under the leadership of former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia, the BNP decided to boycott the general election scheduled for January 7. The party is advocating for the formation of an interim non-party, neutral government to oversee the election, a demand that has been rebuffed by the government led by Prime Minister Hasina.

The second day of the strike coincides with tomorrow's election, which has already gathered global attention.
On Thursday, BNP Joint Senior Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced the programs in a virtual press briefing. He further said that the hartal will begin at 6 am (local time) today and end at 6 am (local time) on Monday.
Meanwhile, the BNP's like-minded parties will observe the programmes simultaneously. Demands by the BNP include the resignation of the government, the release of its leaders and activists arrested since late October, and the unconditional release of party chief Khaleda Zia.

Soon after Rizvi's announcement, the Liberal Democratic Party also said that it would go on a strike for 48 hours starting at 6 am on Saturday, Dhaka Tribune reported. It will be the fifth spell of hartals by the BNP and like-minded parties since October 29. The opposition parties enforced countrywide blockades for 23 days in 12 phases over the period.

The BNP came up with the call for a non-cooperation movement on December 20, which led to the continued mass campaigns and distribution of leaflets. Rizvi further said that their programme is meant to gain public support in favour of the party's call to boycott the January 7 election. Reportedly, he is also wanted by police for campaigning against the election, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

Earlier on Thursday, the BNP leader urged people to boycott the "one-sided and dummy election as it will put the country into trouble." Later in the day, leaders of the 12-party alliance marched in the capital's Paltan area, where they circulated anti-poll leaflets too. Moreover, they also held a brief rally in front of the National Press Club.
In another development, BNP Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan, pointing at the Awami League, said, "A government can retain power by cheating the people." "But the Awami League government will have to step down today or tomorrow," he said.

He was addressing a rally of the Bangladesh Sammilito Peshajibi Parishad, a pro-BNP organisation of professionals, near the press club, Dhaka Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Thursday made an impassioned appeal and urged the people to exercise their voting rights in Sunday's election to prove that democracy prevails in Bangladesh.

"Today I've appeared before you to ask for votes in favour of the symbol, Boat," she said in a televised address to the nation, her final campaign speech before the January 7 national election to form the country's 12th parliament.

"The call has come; it's time to take the road", Sheikh Hasina said, quoting from poet Sunkanta Bhattacharya's poem, Udayachal (From the east).

In her speech, Hasina said she is seeking another five-year term in office to make development sustainable, work to improve people's living standards and build a smart, developed Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty.

She said during her Awami League government's three consecutive terms, Bangladesh has witnessed the continuation of a "democratic trend and stability" in the process of building a people's welfare-oriented society based on "equality and justice."

"If we can form the government again by getting your valuable votes we will be able to continue with the implementation of the programs taken by us," she said, adding that this will give "us an opportunity to further improve your living condition."

( Source : ANI )
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