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Sheikh Hasina: BNP boycotting general election as there is no scope to rig it


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THE Bangladesh prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, said on Monday (1) that the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is boycotting Sunday’s (7) general election as they found no scope to rig the polls.

Hasina launched her campaign for a fifth term last month, as opposition parties called for civil disobedience and said the January 7 polls would not be fair.

“If I can form government again, we will turn Bangladesh into a prosperous and developed country,” Hasina told reporters in the northeastern city of Sylhet late last month, kickstarting two weeks of campaigning ahead of the general elections.

“There will be no homeless and landless people,” she added, accompanied by ministers and top members of her Awami League party.

The 76-year-old is all but assured of winning the polls, with the opposition condemning what they condemn as a “farcical” vote.

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Hasina said this week the BNP had tried to foil the 2014 parliamentary election through violence, but had failed.

“Now they are out to thwart the 12th parliamentary election slated for January 7 for which they are once again burning people to death through arson violence and subversive acts,” she said.

“The BNP-Jammat is trying to foil the poll and snatch away your vote through arson terrorism,” the official BSS news agency quoted Hasina, who is also the Awami League (AL) chairman, as saying while addressing a rally in Dhaka on Monday (1).

Hasina is the longest-serving prime minister of Bangladesh, with the first term from 1996 to 2001 and three consecutive terms from 2009 to 2014, 2014 to 2019 and 2019 till date.

The BNP as well as Jamaat-eIslami, the largest Islamist group, and dozens of smaller parties, said no election will be free and fair with Hasina in power.

“We urge the people to stick to the demands for restoring democracy and boycott the farcical vote,” the BNP said.

DP Hasina INSET Protest GettyImages 1755497641
The run-up to the elections has been marred by widespread violence

Violence has marred the runup to the pollsCriticising those who blamed her Awami League party for vote manipulation, Hasina said her government needed no vote rigging to assume power as they had won the hearts of the people by working for the welfare of Bangladesh.

“The Awami League government has made the Election Commission independent so that it can conduct elections freely,” she said.

Opposition parties have been holding regular nationwide strikes and transport blockades to press for a vote under a neutral government, which Hasina has rejected as unconstitutional.

The BNP, led by former prime minister Khalida Zia, has called for civil disobedience against the government, urging people not to pay taxes and utility bills to press its demand for a non-party interim government for election oversight by amending the country’s constitution.

Hasina accused the opposition of carrying out a deadly arson attack on a train that killed four people in Dhaka last month and of sabotaging a railway track in recent days, which killed another.

“The BNP-Jamaat alliance has been continuing these extremist and terrorist acts,” she said, accusing top BNP leader Tarique Rahman of ordering the attacks from exile in Britain.

The police also accused the BNP of the deadly train fire, charges the party has denied.

The BNP previously boycotted the 2014 election, but took part in the 2018 polls, which party leaders later said was a mistake as they alleged the voting was marred with widespread rigging and intimidation.

Hasina said at a rally last week, “We will take part in the January 7 election with our party’s electoral symbol, boat. Go early to the polling centres to cast a vote to show the world that we can hold the election in a free, fair and neutral manner.”

“Various conspiracies are being hatched to foil the polls. They work to bring a third party to power in Bangladesh – we will give a befitting reply to the conspiracies through the election on January 7.”


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