Amidst nationwide protests by opposition, Bangladesh to go to polls on January 7
The opposition has been protesting against the government led by PM Sheikh Hasina, demanding her resignation and the formation of an interim government to ensure free and fair polls.
NEW DELHI: Bangladesh will go to the polls on January 7, 2024, announced the country's chief election commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Wednesday. This will be the country’s 12th general elections.
This announcement comes amidst nationwide protests which have led to the deaths of four people (including a policemen), while hundreds have been injured. The opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) has been protesting against the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, demanding her resignation and the formation of an interim government to ensure free and fair polls.
The last day of submission of nomination papers will be November 30. The papers will get scrutinised between December 1 to 4, while the last date for the withdrawal of candidates will be December 17. On December 18, election symbols will be allotted to candidates, said Awal in a live broadcast on their national television.
The BNP’s far right allies Jamaat-e-Islami have also taken to the streets demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is facing allegations of corruption and money laundering.
A few BNP leaders are in jail, while BNP leader Khaleda Zia is under house arrest and her son Tarique Rahman is in exile. The US has been insisting on holding free and fair elections. The US has been highlighting issues of human rights violations in Bangladesh too.
Some reports suggest that over 8000 opposition members and protests have been jailed since the protests began on October 28.
The ruling Awami League has dismissed the opposition's demands, saying elections would be held under Premier Hasina, who also rejected proposals for dialogue with the opposition by the US and other major Western countries, calling the BNP a terrorist organisation.
Senior BNP leader Mahbubuddin Khokon said the Election Commission would have to shoulder responsibilities for any conflicting situation over the announcement of the poll schedule.
Meanwhile, ahead of the announcement of the poll dates, security has been heightened and increased vigil is being maintained across the country. The election campaign as per the announcement will run from December 18 to January 5 midnight.