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Bangladesh polls a stigmatised farce, says Khaleda Zia

Bangladesh polls a stigmatised farce, says Khaleda Zia

Dhaka: Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia Friday called upon countrymen to fully boycott the Jan 5 general elections, calling it a "stigmatised farce".

"No one at home and abroad will recognise it as elections and through this the Awami League government will appear anew as an illegal structure," the Daily Star quoted Zia, who heads the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance, as saying in a statement Friday evening.

Osman Faruq, an adviser to the BNP chairperson, at a press conference at Zia's residence Friday announced another shutdown for 48 hours starting from Saturday.

Faruk said their "peaceful" shutdown will end at 6 a.m. Monday and was aimed at protesting the "confinement" of the party chief and to seek cancellation of the "one-sided" polls.

The former minister urged everyone to stay away from the polls. "The people's movement never goes in vain, they'll be victorious for sure," he added.

He also said that the ongoing nationwide indefinite blockade of rail, roads and waterways will continue alongside the shutdown.

The BNP's boycott over the poll-time government issue has led to more than half of the parliament seats resulting into uncontested victories for candidates.

The government deployed a large number of police personnel at Zia's residence soon after she announced Dec 24 the "March for Democracy" from Dec 29 protesting the one-sided polls.

Zia was prevented from leaving her residence during her programme to force the government to cancel the elections.

She has not been seen coming out of her home since last week, while her party leaders have been arrested by police when they tried to enter her residence, fanning speculation that she was under house arrest.

The BNP Dec 30 called an indefinite blockade from Jan 1 to prevent holding of elections which resulted in incidents like bomb attacks and torching of vehicles.

On Friday, at least two people were killed and three injured when a truck plunged into a ditch after protestors hurled a bomb as opposition's countrywide indefinite blockade continued for the third day.

The people killed in Hakimpur upazila (sub-district) in Dinajpur were identified as Md Shah Newaz, the driver, and Adinur Rahman, an onion trader, Hakimpur police station chief Ahsan Habib said.

Some protectors set fire to an Awami League office in Comilla.

In another incident, at least three people, including a woman passenger, sustained severe burn injuries when some protestors hurled a bomb at a bus near Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital Friday morning.

Since Nov 26, the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance has enforced nationwide blockade for 22 days in phases, demanding the cancellation of the parliamentary elections. It has wanted the polls to be held under an independent caretaker government, a demand the ruling Awami League has declined.

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