DHAKA: Bangladesh’s beleaguered opposition says the winner of the next general election will be no surprise: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, credited with turning around the economy but called authoritarian by opponents, is set for her fourth straight term.
The country of nearly 170 million will vote on Jan 7, the Election Commission said on Wednesday, leading to jubilation for Hasina’s party and a sense of resignation from the main opposition, whose top leadership is either in jail or exile for what they say are trumped-up charges.
“Everybody in Bangladesh knows the outcome of this election,” Abdul Moyeen Khan, member of the highest policy-making body of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), said on Thursday.
“What’s the point in becoming a part of that drama? There is no point in going to a meaningless election. Democracy is dead in Bangladesh.”
Hasina has repeatedly rebuffed opposition calls to resign and for a caretaker government to oversee the election, blaming the BNP for deadly street protests in recent days in support of their demand. The BNP called for a 48-hour strike from Sunday in protest against the election schedule.
Obaidul Quader, Awami League general secretary and road transport minister, told reporters on Thursday that all parties were welcome to contest the election and there “should be no obstacles for anyone”.
Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, called for an investigation into a range of irregularities in the 2018 vote.
The Awami League, whose alliance won 257 of the 300 directly elected seats in parliament, denied any issues.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023