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Central & South Asia

Bangladesh opposition to boycott elections

The 18-party coalition says the January elections will not be free and fair, as the deadline for nominations looms.

Last updated: 02 Dec 2013 09:26
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BNP supporters have organised massive rallies and blockades in protest of the government [Getty Images]

Bangladesh's 18-party opposition coalition has said it will boycott a general election scheduled for January, plunging the volatile country into political uncertainty just hours before the final deadline for nominations.

"There is no question of us filing nominations for the January 5 election under the present circumstances. We're not going to take part in the January 5 elections," Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, a vice president of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), told AFP news agency on Monday.

Bangladesh has witnessed escalating street violence over the last five weeks that left 51 people dead and thousands injured, with almost all opposition leaders now in hiding.

Another protester died in the western town of Natore on Monday during clashes between hundreds of BNP supporters and ruling party activists, police said.

Chowdhury said the BNP and its 17 smaller allies, including the country's largest Islamic party, would only change their mind "if the polls are organised by a non-party, neutral government".

The BNP, led by two time ex-premier Khaleda Zia, has been demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina quit and make way for a "non-party and impartial" chief executive to oversee the polls.

It believes any polls under Hasina will be rigged.

Hasina, whose party holds a majority in the current parliament, has rejected the opposition demand and instead formed an interim multi-party cabinet which includes her allies to conduct polls.

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