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Bangladesh opposition says will contest election

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Bangladesh’s main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia (C) looks on as she is escorted back to prison from a hospital visit in Dhaka on November 8, 2018. – Bangladeshi authorities were set to announce later November 8 a date for general elections despite the opposition crying foul and threatening protests. (Photo by – / AFP)

Bangladesh’s main opposition party said Sunday it would not boycott next month’s general election and would challenge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the polls, despite its leader being in jail.

“We have announced that we will participate in the election,” Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) senior leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told AFP.

The BNP boycotted the 2014 election that returned Hasina to power over fears it would be rigged.

The party has expressed fears this poll, slated for December 23 by the election commission, will not be democratic and has threatened protests.

BNP veteran leader Khaleda Zia remains behind bars serving a decade-long jail term for corruption charges her supporters say were politically motivated.

Zia, 73, has virtually no time to appeal her sentence and will almost certainly be banned from contesting the election against her arch-rival Hasina.

The opposition says some 5,000 of its activists have been detained in a recent crackdown, depriving it of a grassroots presence vital to fight any polls.

The arrest of activists and prominent dissidents including student leaders and a top photographer have also cast a shadow over the buildup to the vote.

The opposition has said the charges against Zia and other party activists were deliberately planned.


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