Bangladesh opposition says will contest election
November 11 2018 12:35 PM
Members of Jatiya Oikyafront, an opposition alliance, hold a news conference at the National Press C
Members of Jatiya Oikyafront, an opposition alliance, hold a news conference at the National Press Club to confirm their participation in the upcoming parliamentary election in Dhaka

AFP/Dhaka

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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