In the midst of escalating tensions and street protests by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, the Election Commission of Bangladesh has officially announced the schedule for the 12th parliamentary polls, with the voting slated to take place on January 7, 2024.
The announcement was made by Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal in a nationally broadcast address on TV and radio on Wednesday evening. The timing of the announcement is expected to further intensify protests by the BNP, with party leaders vehemently expressing their opposition to holding elections with the Awami League in power.
Despite the ongoing transport blockades and arson attacks targeting buses over the past two weeks, the BNP has remained steadfast in its resistance, vowing not to permit any elections under the current government. The opposition party has witnessed arrests of its central and local leaders due to their involvement in violent activities.
Conversely, the ruling Awami League has geared up for celebratory marches to commemorate the announcement of the election schedule. The party is resolute in its refusal to step down, arguing that handing over power to any unelected administration would violate the constitution.
As apprehensions of a violent confrontation surrounding the announcement of the election schedule grip Bangladesh, law enforcement has significantly bolstered security measures in Dhaka and other parts of the country, particularly around the Election Commission headquarters.
Notably, both the opposition and ruling parties have rejected calls for dialogue, including the most recent overture by the United States, which has expressed concerns regarding the fairness of the upcoming elections. The U.S. has also voiced apprehensions about potential clashes and violence during protests and polls in Bangladesh, underscoring the need for peaceful and transparent electoral processes.