DHAKA: General elections will be held in Bangladesh on January 7, with opposition parties threatening to boycott fearing vote fraud, the country’s chief election commissioner said on Wednesday.
In his statement on live television broadcast, election commissioner Habibul Awal said, “The 12th parliamentary elections will be held on January 7 with 300 seats,” and called on the parties to hold talks to resolve the political crisis.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled the South Asian country for the last 15 years and has been accused of ruling the country with an iron fist. It seems almost certain that he will return to power for a fourth term if the opposition boycott continues.
US moves to break political deadlock in Bangladesh
Hasina has achieved impressive economic growth, but Western countries have raised alarm over democratic backsliding and she has been accused of vote rigging by the opposition in the last two polls.
Opposition parties held large rallies calling for his resignation and elections by a neutral interim government.
Hasina has since launched a crackdown and most of the senior leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have been arrested, as well as thousands of their supporters.
BNP announced that it would boycott the elections.
So is Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), the largest Islamist party in the 90 percent Muslim-majority country.
Thousands of IAB supporters marched to the election commission office on Wednesday to protest the announcement.
Members said more than 10,000 people attended, but police inspector Mizanur Rahman told AFP the numbers were around 3,000.
The election announcement came just days after US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas requested a meeting with leaders of the three major parties in a bid to break the political impasse.
Washington and the European Union have repeatedly called on the government to hold free and fair elections.
news source (www.brecorder.com)