Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday that her government will hold a general election by the end of this year, as scheduled. “The election will take place on time and the people will exercise their voting rights,” Hasina said.
The prime minister was speaking at a press conference on her return home from an official visit to Italy and the Vatican. Hasina addressed threats from the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) that it will boycott the election unless its chairperson, Begum Khaleda Zia, is released from prison. Zia — who was herself prime minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006 — was sentenced to five years in jail for embezzlement on Feb. 8.
Hasina was keen to stress that the government had nothing to do with Zia’s sentence.
“The court has awarded imprisonment to Zia,” she said. “Our government did not dictate the verdict. The case was not even filed by the ruling party. It was filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission during the previous caretaker government.”
Hasina also said that the BNP was free to boycott the upcoming election, as it did the last one.