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Bangladesh's main opposition looks all set to boycott parliament polls


Bangladesh's main opposition looks all set to boycott parliament polls

DHAKA, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's main opposition and its allies look prepared set to boycott the country's parliamentary elections slated for next month.

No poll aspirant from ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its 17 allies including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party has submitted nomination paper.

According to the poll schedule announced recently, the deadline for submission of nomination papers is Dec. 2.

"BNP-led main opposition alliance will boycott the general elections organized by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government," said a senior party leader who did not like to be named.

"It's a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people of Bangladesh."

Despite the opposition threat to boycott, the Bangladesh Election Commission announced on Nov. 25 that the country's 10th parliamentary election will be held on Jan. 5 next year.

In protest against the poll schedule, opposition BNP enforced a series of countrywide road, rail and railway blockade since Nov. 26.

The fresh blockade was called on Friday demanding postponement of the poll schedule until a political consensus is reached on the formation of the caretaker cabinet to oversee the election.

Bangladesh's main opposition Monday extended its ongoing 72- hour nationwide blockade until Thursday evening to push for the postponement of the scheduled election.

Clashes between opposition protesters and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) activists flared in many places on Monday, leaving one BNP leader dead and dozens of other members injured.

Dozens of people, including a paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh soldier, have been reportedly dead and hundreds others injured in stray incidents of blockade violence since Nov. 26 in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

Despite the BNP objection, the controversial interim polls-time cabinet was sworn in at the Presidential House last month.

At the cabinet meeting on Nov. 5, all ministers reportedly decided to form an all-party interim government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

A ruling AL party leader, who preferred to be unnamed, said if the BNP wants it can still join the all-party interim cabinet and participate in the general election. "And polls can be rescheduled if parties agree."

Zia has asked Hasina to bring back a non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Since the Bangladeshi parliament abolished the non-party caretaker government system in June 2011, the BNP-led alliance has been waging mass protests calling for the reinstatement of the provision.