Parliamentary elections will be held in Bangladesh on 7 January. The protests by opposition parties demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister have shaken the country. Giving information in a live television broadcast, Chief Election Commissioner Habibul Awal said that the 12th parliamentary elections will be held on January 7 on 300 seats. He urged the parties to hold talks to resolve the political crisis. Top leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are either in jail or in exile. The BNP has already said it will boycott the elections if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina does not resign and transfer power to a non-partisan caretaker government to oversee the general elections. Independent Bangladesh has also followed a similar pattern when it comes to transfer of power through free and fair elections. Coups, counter-coups, assassinations and military rule have been imposed in politics, leading the country towards confrontation, electoral violence, intolerance towards the opposition and strike (bandh) politics.
What is the outline of the Parliament of Bangladesh?
After separation from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh made its own constitution in 1972. After this the parliamentary system came into force here. The Parliament of Bangladesh is called Jatiya Sangsad or House of the Nation. According to the government, its new building was completed on 15 February 1982 and is built on 200 acres. Elections are held for 350 seats of Parliament in Bangladesh. There are 50 seats reserved for women in the Parliament of Bangladesh. The leader of the ruling party in Parliament becomes the Prime Minister and is the executive head. Sheikh Hasina’s party Bangladesh Awami League is in power in Bangladesh since 2009.
Sheikh Hasina’s rule for 15 years
Hasina has led Bangladesh for the past 15 years and has been accused of ruling with an iron fist. If the opposition’s boycott continues, it is considered almost certain that they will return to power for the fourth time. Hasina’s main rival and two-time prime minister, BNP leader Khaleda Zia, is effectively under house arrest on what her party calls trumped-up corruption charges. The BNP boycotted the 2014 elections, but participated in the 2018. The Muslim-majority country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) party also said they would reject the elections.
Why is the opposition protesting?
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called for a 48-hour nationwide strike, demanding the cancellation of the January 7 general election. The opposition also claimed that the purpose of this election is to bring Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League government to power for the fourth consecutive term. The announcement comes a day after Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Habibul Awal said that the much-awaited general elections will be held on January 7. BNP senior joint general secretary Ruhul Kabir Rizvi called for a two-day general strike from 6 am.
Why are India, China and Pakistan’s eyes on Bangladesh elections?
India, Pakistan and China are keeping an eye on Bangladesh’s elections being held after five years. It is considered very important for all three countries. India has been an important friend of Bangladesh since its formation. Both the countries still play the role of each other’s partners on many fronts. A large number of Chinese immigrants live in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. China is also continuously increasing its presence in Bangladesh through the BRI project. In 2016, China signed 26 agreements with Bangladesh. If Sheikh Hasina returns to power, then the path ahead is not going to be easy for Pakistan. Pakistan has hope from Khaleda Zia’s party. If Khaleda Zia comes to power, then both the countries can partner again on many fronts.