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Bangladesh Opposition Denounces ‘Death of Democracy’ Ahead of Anticipated Election

As Bangladesh prepares for its upcoming general election on January 7, 2023, the opposition, particularly the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is expressing concerns about the democratic process, calling it a foregone conclusion in favor of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s fourth consecutive term. Here are the key developments:

Election Announcement and Opposition’s Response

  • The Election Commission announced that the general elections will take place on January 7, 2023.
  • The ruling party, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, welcomed the announcement with jubilation.
  • The BNP, the main opposition, expressed a sense of resignation, suggesting that the outcome is already known.

Opposition’s Perspective

  • Abdul Moyeen Khan, a member of the BNP’s highest policy-making body, stated that the election’s outcome is apparent to everyone in Bangladesh.
  • The opposition alleges that the charges against its top leadership, resulting in jail sentences or exile, are politically motivated and designed to weaken their influence.

Call for Strike and Discontent

  • In protest against the election schedule, the BNP called for a 48-hour strike beginning Sunday.
  • Opposition leaders argue that democracy is in peril in Bangladesh, emphasizing their lack of faith in a meaningful electoral process.

Ruling Party’s Stance

  • Prime Minister Hasina has rejected calls for her resignation and the formation of a caretaker government to oversee the election.
  • The ruling Awami League asserts that all parties are welcome to contest, and there should be no obstacles for anyone.

Past Election Controversies

  • The BNP boycotted the 2014 election but participated in 2018, later deeming it a mistake due to allegations of widespread rigging and intimidation.
  • Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, called for investigations into irregularities in the 2018 vote.

International Observations and Economic Challenges

  • A survey by the International Republican Institute highlighted concerns among Bangladeshis about the country’s direction, primarily driven by high inflation.
  • Despite concerns, a significant portion of the population still approves of Prime Minister Hasina’s performance.
  • Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, criticize the arrests of opposition leaders, viewing them as attempts to intimidate ahead of the elections.

Economic Considerations

  • Prime Minister Hasina, credited with economic advancements, sought a $4.7 billion IMF bailout this year due to higher commodity prices following the Russia-Ukraine war.
  • The United States, a major buyer of Bangladeshi garments, implemented a policy allowing visa restrictions for individuals undermining the democratic election process.

The upcoming elections in Bangladesh are unfolding amid a backdrop of political tensions, opposition skepticism, and economic challenges, prompting international scrutiny and concerns about the state of democracy in the country.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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