Bangladesh opposition mounts huge protest in capital Dhaka

Protests have been held around the country demanding for PM Sheikh Hasina resign and to call an election under a caretaker government. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Tens of thousands of supporters of Bangladesh’s main opposition party descended on Dhaka on Saturday to protest against the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and demand new elections.

“Sheikh Hasina is a vote thief!” they chanted at the Golapbagh sports ground where the rally was being held, as the crowd spilled over into the surrounding streets.

Tension was high in the capital after security forces stormed the headquarters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Tuesday, leaving at least one person dead and scores injured.

Two of the party’s top leaders were arrested on Friday over charges of inciting the violence, adding to the 2,000-odd activists and supporters the party said have been detained since Nov 30 to try to prevent the rally from going ahead.

Western governments – along with the United Nations – have expressed concerns over the political climate in Bangladesh, one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.

The country was long aligned with the United States but in recent years, Ms Hasina has courted deeper ties with China, with Beijing bankrolling some of her multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects.

The opposition has been holding protests around the country demanding Ms Hasina resign and call an election under a caretaker government, which she has rejected outright.

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