Bangladesh opposition rallies to demand PM quit before polls

Dec 9, 2022, 12:23 PM | Updated: Dec 10, 2022, 4:22 am
Bangladesh National Party (BNP) supporters shout slogans during a rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Satur...

Bangladesh National Party (BNP) supporters shout slogans during a rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Bangladesh's capital on Saturday to demand the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resign and install a caretaker before next general elections expected to be held in early 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

(AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Bangladesh’s capital on Saturday to demand the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resign and install a caretaker before next general elections expected to be held in early 2024.

The supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, reached the protest venue in Dhaka overnight amid tight security while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan warned of dire consequences in case of violence from the rally.

Hasina and her ruling Awami League party, which returned to power in 2018 for the third consecutive time, have repeatedly ruled out the opposition’s demand, saying a caretaker government goes against the spirit of the country’s constitution.

The venue at Golapbagh in Dhaka was filled up by Saturday morning and the crowd spilled out into streets when opposition activists chanted slogans such as “Down with Hasina” and “We want a fair election.”

Saturday’s rally was the 10th from the main opposition party after it announced in September it will hold protests in 10 big cities across the country. All the previous rallies outside Dhaka drew huge crowds despite challenges including what the party said were politically motivated transport strikes and intimidation by security agencies and the ruling party. Both police and the ruling party denied such allegations.

The rally in Dhaka was held during heightened tension after police stormed the party headquarters following clashes between police and opposition supporters on Wednesday, leaving at least one dead and 50 injured. Police arrested more than 400 opposition activists.

On Friday, detectives raided homes of two senior party leaders, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. Both were denied bail.

Zahiruddin Swapan, a former two-time opposition lawmaker and party spokesman, told The Associated Press that by Saturday afternoon about 1.5 million opposition supporters joined the rally.

“We want a free and fair election. To facilitate that, this repressive government must go, Parliament must be dissolved, and a new Election Commission should be installed,” he said. “They came to power through vote rigging and intimidation.”

Faruk Hossain, a spokesman of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told AP that the venue has a capacity of maximum 30,000 people and if the adjacent streets were considered, the rally could not have drawn more than 60,000 people.

Witnesses said up to 100,000 opposition activists joined the rally.

An election-time caretaker government system was introduced in the constitution in 1996 to oversee national elections, but it was nullified in 2011 under Hasina through passage of a constitutional amendment and after the Supreme Court ruled the system was contradictory to the constitution.

The BNP boycotted the election in 2014, and the results of the vote in 2018 were disputed because of allegations of vote rigging by the ruling party, which won with an overwhelming majority.

On Saturday, seven BNP lawmakers at the rally announced their resignations from Parliament.

Fifteen Western embassies issued a joint statement on Tuesday calling for the government to allow free expression, peaceful assembly and fair elections, with the U.N. making a similar declaration a day later.

Bangladeshi politics has been polarized with Hasina and Zia being the most influential archrivals. Although the country is a parliamentary democracy, it has a violent history of coups and counter coups.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Reporter arrested during news event on Ohio train derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A broadcast reporter was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing Wednesday while covering a news conference about the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio. NewsNation posted video of correspondent Evan Lambert being arrested in the gymnasium of an elementary school in East Palestine where […]
21 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
21 hours ago
Maria Chagwena, a millet farmer, holds a plate with millet grains outside her house in Zimbabwe's a...
Associated Press

UN eyes revival of millets as global grain uncertainty grows

RUSHINGA, Zimbabwe (AP) — While others in her Zimbabwean village agonize over a maize crop seemingly headed for failure, Jestina Nyamukunguvengu picks up a hoe and slices through the soil of her fields that are lush green with a pearl millet crop in the African country’s arid Rushinga district. “These crops don’t get affected by […]
21 hours ago
This Jan. 10, 2023, photo provided by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance shows a Pacific pocket mo...
Associated Press

Tiny California mouse wins Guinness award for longevity

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A tiny California mouse now has a big title after winning a Guinness World record for longevity. A Pacific pocket mouse named Pat — after “Star Trek” actor Patrick Stewart — received the Guinness approval Wednesday as the oldest living mouse in human care at the ripe age of 9 years […]
21 hours ago
This shows a Chinese Dahua brand security camera in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Aust...
Associated Press

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Bangladesh opposition rallies to demand PM quit before polls