Date: January 7, 2024
In a crucial moment for Bangladesh’s political landscape, the Bangladesh general elections is currently taking place across the country. The incumbent Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, is seeking a historic fourth consecutive term in office. However, the election is overshadowed by a boycott from the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and other like-minded parties.
The BNP has called for a two-day nationwide strike to protest against what they perceive as a lack of credibility in the electoral process. They allege that the ruling Awami League has fielded “dummy” candidates as independents to create an illusion of fairness. The ruling party vehemently denies these claims.
Tensions have been running high in Bangladesh since October, when a massive anti-government rally turned violent. The opposition demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Hasina and the formation of a caretaker government to oversee the elections. However, the government has stated that there is no constitutional provision for a caretaker government.
Despite the opposition boycott, voting commenced at 8 am and will continue until 5 pm. With over 119.6 million registered voters and more than 42,000 polling stations, the election is a significant event for the country. A total of 27 political parties, including the opposition Jatiya Party (JAPA), are participating in the electoral process.
However, the lead-up to the election has been marred by incidents of violence. A passenger train was set on fire, resulting in the loss of four lives, and there have been reports of arson attacks on buildings across the country. The Chief Election Commissioner has issued a stern warning that any irregularities in the polling process will be dealt with firmly.
Criticism has been directed towards Sheikh Hasina’s government for the arrests of tens of thousands of rival politicians and supporters ahead of the elections. The government maintains that these arrests were made based on specific criminal charges and not due to political affiliations.
To ensure transparency and fairness, over 100 foreign observers, including three from India, are monitoring the elections under tight security measures.
Sheikh Hasina has been at the helm of Bangladesh’s government since 2009 and won the previous election in December 2018, which was also marked by violence and allegations of electoral misconduct. Her administration has overseen significant economic growth in the country, but challenges remain, including rising costs of living and an energy crisis.
As the voting process continues, the nation eagerly awaits the results, which are expected to be announced on January 8. The outcome of this election will shape the future of Bangladesh and its political landscape.