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BNP announces 48hrs hartal from Sunday

Staff Reporter:

BNP announced a 48-hour nationwide hartal from Sunday demanding resignation of the government and protesting the announcement of the poll schedule for the 12 parliamentary elections.

BNP’s Senior Secretary General, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, made the announcement in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

Terming the incumbent Election Commission (EC) as loyal to the ruling party, the public has unequivocally rejected the election schedule announced by Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Wednesday.

“The commission is clearly biased and it unveils a one-sided election schedule. We vehemently reject it with disdain,” he said.

BNP declared the fresh demonstration programme a day after the CEC announced the schedule for the 12th parliamentary election, scheduled for January 7.

The party has been on the streets for a long time to press home their numerous demands, including the resignation of the AL-led government and a neutral poll-time government which they said will ensure a level playing field for all political parties.

The ruling Awami League, however, dismissed the demand of a poll-time government terming it “unconstitutional”.

In continuation of their series of demonstration programmes, BNP organised a grand rally in the capital on 28 October demanding resignation of the government and forming a poll-time non-partisan government. The rally, however, ended up in turmoil, leaving one police member and a party activist dead. BNP alleged that the rally was foiled by the law enforcement agencies and ruling party men.

After enforcing a dawn-to-dusk strike countrywide the next day, the rival party have been staging a series of blockades in phases—marked by violence, arson attacks countrywide, and arrest and deaths of BNP activists– to oust the government.

Dozens of top BNP leaders including party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and around 12,505 activists countrywide have been arrested since the 28 October rally as of Thursday.

Several other anti-government parties, including Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Ganatantra Manch, have concurrently joined the demonstration.

During this period, 13 people, including one journalist, were killed and 4,106 were injured, according to the BNP’s Media Cell.

Meanwhile, the United States and other western countries have repeatedly urged all parties to sit in through dialogue for a free, fair and participatory election in the country.

On Monday (13 November), US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas handed over a letter, sent by US’s Assistant Secretary at the Bureau Of South And Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, to AL, BNP and Jatiya Party calling for a dialogue.

AL, however, has rejected the call saying that there was no scope for dialogue at the eve of the election.

Meanwhile, while announcing the election schedule on Wednesday, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal said that reaching a consensus is not impossible yet.

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