Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bangladesh is set to hold a significant election, marked by the absence of major opposition parties and overshadowed by concerns about its democratic process. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is poised to secure her fifth term, with the Awami League, the ruling party, facing little to no effective competition. This situation arises from a boycott by opposition parties, notably the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and the arrest of thousands of opposition members.
The election, scheduled for Sunday, has been criticized for lacking genuine democratic choice, leading to disinterest and frustration among many young voters. The BNP and other parties have demanded Hasina’s resignation and the establishment of a neutral caretaker government to oversee the election. However, these demands have been met with a severe crackdown, resulting in mass arrests and the flight of opposition members.
The political landscape in Bangladesh has long been defined by the rivalry between Hasina and Khaleda Zia, the wife of a former military ruler. Hasina’s tenure, while bringing economic growth and development, has been marred by allegations of human rights abuses, suppression of press freedom, and a crackdown on political opposition.
The United States has sanctioned an elite police unit, the Rapid Action Batallion (RAB) in Bangladesh over accusations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Analysts and opposition leaders have expressed concerns that the election will lack moral legitimacy and could lead to political violence and further economic challenges.
In the backdrop of these events, the Bangladesh Army has been deployed to ensure a peaceful election. The BNP has called for a shutdown to disrupt the vote, highlighting the tense and contentious atmosphere surrounding the election.