Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out Thursday any last-minute cancelation of weekend elections that have been boycotted by the opposition, accusing her rivals of holding the country hostage. In a final address to the nation ahead of Sunday’s violence-plagued polls, Hasina accused opposition leader Khaleda Zia of shunning dialogue and rejecting an offer to share power in an interim administration. “We have tried our best to bring the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) into the elections,” Hasina, who is the leader of the ruling Awami League, said in a 40-minute televised address. “Zia spurned my offer for dialogue and instead chose the path of confrontation. “The Jan. 5 polls will be held in accordance with the constitution,” she added.
More than 140 people have been killed in violence in the last two months since Hasina announced she would not bow to calls to stand aside and let a caretaker government organize the elections.
Zia’s BNP and 20 other opposition parties have refused to take part in the elections over fears that the result would be rigged, dimissing the contest as a “farce.”
The BNP has organized a series of general strikes and blockades designed to paralyze the country and hence scupper the contest.