Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections on January 5th

Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections on January 5th

On 2nd January, Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said “We had taken oath as an elected government to uphold democracy. So, the January 5 elections would be held according to the constitution.” Her party has tried its best to bring the main opposition BNP in the January 5 polls.

“I had invited the BNP chairperson for holding talks for a peaceful consensus. I was also ready to give the main opposition any ministry including the home in the polls-time cabinet,” said Hasina.

She added: “I had phoned the opposition leader and invited her for a dialogue. But, she had rejected the invitation and chosen the path of violence.”

The premier said: “The main opposition created terrorism and anarchy in the name of hartals and blockades. It also burnt general people to death through petrol bombs.”

She said the Awami League would move Bangladesh to a middle-income country by 2021 if comes to power next time.

She made the statement while addressing the nation as the president of the ruling party on 2nd January evening. This is supposed to be the last address of Sheikh Hasina before the polls –

BNP-led 18 parties Boycotts poll:

On 3rd January, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has called upon countrymen to fully boycott the January 5 parliamentary election terming it a “stigmatized farce”.

“No one at home and abroad will recognize it as election and through this the Awami League government will appear anew as an illegal structure,” Khaleda, also head of the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance, said in a statement in evening of 3rd January.

The least contested election is going to take place in 147 constituencies on January 5 as 153 lawmakers have already been elected uncontested, thanks to the boycott by the BNP-led alliance and other political parties.

She alleged that the government is creating a black chapter misusing administration and law enforcers with the help of “worthless” Election Commission.“So the Jan 5 will be recognized as a black date.”

The former prime minister claimed that the BNP wanted a participatory election but it could not be possible due to the stubbornness of the Awami League

Election Commission:

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad said ““The commission will ensure a peaceful environment for voters to cast their votes,” he told reporters after a meeting with the president at Bangabhaban on 1st January.

He was asked about the opposition’s non-stop blockade to resist the elections. “Vehicles are not allowed to run in a constituency before the elections anyway. Only approved vehicles can run during the elections. There will be no problem in casting votes during the elections due to the blockade,” he assured.

The Election Commission would decide whether the timeframe of army deployment would be extended after January 9 considering the situation. “If needed, the timeframe of army deployment in some areas may be extended. The commission will decide this considering the situation,” he told reporters after a meeting with the president at Bangabhaban .

The CEC said the army would be in the field at least till January 9 to maintain law and order during the polls.

The Daily Star’s View:

The editor of the leading English-language daily Daily Star appeals not to hold 5th January elections. The editor writes : ”Why should the 5th January ‘election’ not be held? Because it violates the concept of election as envisaged in the constitution, because it will destroy whatever faith people still have in democracy, … What is after all an election? Is it just a ritual that has to be performed every five years whether or not people participate in it? “ …

“If, on the other hand, an election is an expression of the people’s will, if it is a process through which voters express their choice, if it is an event through which people choose a new government, if it is the process through which people approve a set of policies that they would like their new government to implement, and if it is a process through which the voters punish those who have failed to deliver, or who have been corrupt, etc., then what we are about to have on 5th January is a travesty of everything that is remotely attributable to democracy. “

“It is also in total violation of the meaning, intention, goal, spirit and ethos of the constitution…So the question that Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League must ask themselves is what sort of parliament and government will the 5th January election produce. How much of the people’s mandate will it carry? “


More than three- quarters of the people (77%) in Bangladesh think that the January 5 general elections without the main opposition BNP’s participation will not be acceptable, according to a Dhaka Tribune opinion poll.

However, around 41% of the respondents say they will cast their votes even if it is not an inclusive election. Of them, 16.35% refuse to indicate which party they want to vote for.

The nationwide opinion poll based on interviews of 2,438 respondents of different ages, economic status and educational backgrounds also says had the BNP participated, the 10th parliamentary polls could have been a neck-and-neck fight between the two major parties – the Awami League having 36% support while the BNP enjoying 37%.

Interestingly more male voters indicate intention to vote for the BNP than the AL, while more women are interested in voting for the AL than BNP according to the survey that has error below 3%.

The survey was conducted between December 14 and 22 last year over mobile phones – a method which Gallup, a US-based performance-management consulting company, follows in such opinion poll.

When asked which party they think would win in their constituencies if the BNP participated in the election, most respondents choose the BNP over the Awami League (44% to 38%).

Reaction of US & EU:

Amid apprehension of serious political crisis before and after the January 5 election, foreign diplomats of some influential countries stationed in Dhaka 0n 2nd January had several meetings to discuss the latest situation.

Diplomatic sources said envoys of some countries were displeased that the major political parties could not reach a consensus about the election and that more than half the parliamentary seats had already been won uncontested.

They are also worried about the current situation and are of the view that the post-election situation may be more critical when the real crisis will begin, the sources added.

The European Union, a duty free market for nearly 60 percent of Bangladesh’s garment exports, has refused to send election observers, as have the United States and the Commonwealth, a grouping of 53 mainly former British colonies.

Expressing its disappointment, the United States (US) has said it is not a good sign not to take steps to hold free, fair, and credible elections in Bangladesh. “As I’ve been clear, they haven’t taken steps to hold free, fair, and credible elections, so clearly that’s not a good sign. But I don’t want to prejudge the outcome or what we’ll say afterwards,” said Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State in a regular briefing in Washington on January 2.

The response came when she was asked whether the US will recognise the election results as more than half of the seats in Bangladesh parliament are remaining uncontested because the opposition parties are not contesting the election. “I don’t want to get ahead of what we’ll say in response to the election results,” said the Deputy Spokesperson.

Next Election:

It is reported that Finance Minister AMA Muhith said on 3rd January a fresh election might be held with the participation of all political parties by holding a dialogue any time after January 24.

He said, according to the constitution the election should be held by January 24 and so the election is being held as per the declared schedule. He claimed that the election of January 5 will get legality.

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