Fresh political violence broke out in the Bangladeshi capital on Sunday as thousands of protesters turned out on the streets of Dhaka to oppose forthcoming elections they denounced as fraudulent. Thousands of security officers attempted to quell the demonstrations that left two people dead. Twenty-one political parties, including an 18 party opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have said they will not take part in the elections scheduled for 5 January, after their demands for the country to be run by a neutral caretaker government during the polls were denied. M Shahiduzzaman, a security analyst and a professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka, said the elections are not democratic or inclusive. The EU, the Commonwealth nations and the US have said they will not be sending observers to monitor the polls because they are not “credible”. “The crisis and the violence is likely to intensify,” warned Mr Shahiduzzaman.
The opposition claims that even before the elections, 154 seats out of 300 in the Bangladesh parliament, have already been won unopposed by the Bangladesh Awami League-led government, headed by the ruling party chief and Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Ms Hasina’s political rival, Khaleda Zia, a former Prime Minister and the current opposition leader, had been expected to address Sunday’s crowds, which gathered for a “March For Democracy” in defiance of a government ban on political gatherings. But security officials surrounded Ms Zia’s home in Dhaka in an apparent effort to stop her leaving.