Bangladesh’s opposition mounts huge protest in Dhaka

Tens of thousands of supporters of Bangladesh’s main opposition party descended on Dhaka today to protest against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government and demand fresh elections.

“Sheikh Hasina is a vote thief,” they shouted at the Golapbagh stadium where the rally was being held, as crowds poured into the surrounding streets. Tensions gripped the capital after security forces stormed the headquarters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Tuesday, killing at least one person and injuring several others.

Two of the party’s leaders were arrested yesterday on charges of inciting violence, adding that around 2,000 supporters and supporters of the party say they have been arrested since November 30. to block the session. Western governments – along with the United Nations – have expressed concern about the political situation in Bangladesh, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

The country and the United States have long been united, but in recent years Hasina has sought closer ties with China, with Beijing backing some of its billion-dollar infrastructure projects. The opposition staged protests across the country demanding Hasina to step down and call elections under a caretaker government – something she flatly rejected.

A BNP official said around 200,000 people had joined the protest today by mid-morning. Spokesman Zahiruddin Swapan told AFP that “All we want is for Sheikh Hasina to resign and parliament to be dissolved and for a neutral government to intervene to organize free and fair elections.”

Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Faruq Ahmed dismissed the figures, saying the facility could not accommodate more than 30,000 people. There has been no violence so far, but SWAT teams, counter-terrorism units and canine squads are on alert, he added.

The police set up checkpoints to monitor the roads entering the city and intensified their efforts in the urban area of ​​about 20 million people. Only rickshaws and buses ply Dhaka’s usually bustling streets, with BNP activists accusing the government of calling illegal transport to try to stop people from entering the rally.

Local media also reported that members of the ruling party attacked BNP supporters yesterday.

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