Bangladesh to vote in general elections boycotted by opposition | Elections News

Bangladesh will hold a general election on Sunday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina winning a fourth consecutive term and fifth overall for her Awami League-led alliance, despite overseeing an economy that required an international bailout last year.

The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), of ailing former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, is boycotting the elections after Hasina denied their demand to resign and let an interim government run the elections.

Women make up nearly half of the nearly 120 million eligible voters. First-time voters number about 15 million.

In total, nearly 2,000 candidates are competing for the 300 directly elected parliamentary seats, with a record 5.1 percent of female candidates.

There are 436 independent candidates in the race, the most since 2001. The BNP says the Awami League has propped up “dummy” candidates to try to make the election look credible, a claim the ruling party denies.

Human rights groups have accused the government of attacking opposition leaders and supporters, while Hasina and the Awami League have repeatedly condemned the BNP as troublemakers determined to sabotage the elections.

Almost 800,000 police, paramilitary and auxiliary police will guard the polls on election day. Officials from the army, navy and air force have also been deployed.

Up to 127 foreign observers will follow the electoral process to assess its impartiality, while 59 foreign journalists have been accredited.

Hasina is credited with transforming the $416 billion economy and its massive textile industry, while also receiving international praise for sheltering nearly a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in neighboring Myanmar.

But in recent months, the economy, once among the world’s fastest growing, has been rocked by violent protests after a rise in the cost of living, as Bangladesh struggles to pay for costly energy imports amid of the depletion of dollar reserves.

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