Authorities in Bangladesh have said they will hold a “free and fair” national election on December 23 despite bitter wrangling between the government and the opposition. Bangladesh’s Election Commission announced on Thursday that the election will take place despite the imprisonment of the leader of the main opposition party and the banning of its chief partner, Jamaat-e-Islami. “A favourable situation prevails in the country to hold a free and fair election,” Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said in an address aired by state-run television and radio stations. Huda said he hoped all parties will participate in the election, in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seeking re-election.
The opposition has expressed fears that the election will not be democratic and has threatened protests.
Hasina’s archrival and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who is in jail on corruption charges, is likely to be banned from contesting.
The Election Commission announced that the candidates must file nominations by November 19, leaving Zia virtually no time to appeal.