Bangladesh: Opposition party holds massive public rally calling for Govt to quit

By Md. Kamruzzaman


DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis from across the country gathered in Dhaka on Saturday to support the main opposition political party’s demand that the present government stands down and elections are held under an apolitical interim framework.

All 7 members of Bangladesh Nationalist Party also announce their resignations from parliament.

Following a month of mass rallies in various cities across the country, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) gathered a large crowd of party workers and supporters at Golapbag ground in Dhaka.

Amid protesters shouting anti-government slogans and waving party and national flags, BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain presented a list of demands, which included the resignation of the ruling Awami League government and the release of Khaleda Zia, the 76-year-old party head and two-time prime minister who has been imprisoned for 17 years in two graft cases since 2018.

Other demands included the dissolution of parliament, the reinstatement of a non-political caretaker system for conducting general elections, the reformation of an impartial election commission by the caretaker setup, and the withdrawal of all politically motivated cases against opposition leaders and activists, journalists, religious leaders, and Khaleda Zia.

After the rally, Hossain also told journalists that the party would hold a countrywide demonstration on December 13 in protest against the arrest of some top leaders by police following Wednesday’s clashes between the party activists and law enforcers.

During a gathering in front of the BNP’s headquarters in the capital Dhaka’s Naya Paltan, on Wednesday, its supporters were locked in hectic clashes as police allegedly forced them to leave the place, leaving at least one dead and over 100 injured.

Police arrested BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and the party’s central committee leader Mirza Abbas from their residences in Dhaka late Thursday night.

Dhaka police also arrested over 500 BNP activists on three separate charges, including assaulting police during clashes near the party’s central office on Wednesday.

Both leaders have been arrested on charges of instructing members of his party to attack the police, according to senior police official Harun-or-Rashid, who briefed the media on the latest situation on Friday.

Besides, Hossain further declared to hold processes in all divisional and metropolitan cities countrywide to realize their 10-point demand.

Addressing the gathering, BNP lawmakers announced their intention to quit parliament in protest of the Awami League government’s misrule.

The BNP currently has seven members in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban or National Parliament.

“There is no longer any benefit to our remaining in parliament. Actually, we joined parliament to see how much room the government gives us. It is now equal to staying in parliament or not. So, we have decided to resign,” Rumeen Farhana , a BNP lawmaker on a reserved seat, said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said that there are some official rules to resign from the parliament.

“We hope that by the next one or two working days, our parliament members will submit their resignation letters,” he said.

Addressing Saturday’s Dhaka rally as a spontaneous mass upsurge against the ruling Awami League government, he added despite that restrictions on all sorts of public transport, people willingly joined their rally without any party support.

“In the history of Bangladesh, such public support is very rare. If Awami League understands it and handover power to a neutral caretaker government to hold a free, fair and participatory election, that will be better for the nation,” Dudu viewed.

Earlier, a large number of people traveled from far-flung parts of the country to attend the opposition public gathering in Dhaka. Some of them arrived in the city just a few days ago, and thousands of them were observed camping in the open at the rally site.

“Despite many obstacles put in place by the government, we arrived in Dhaka two days ago and arrived here yesterday evening just after hearing that our party has been granted permission to hold the rally,” Abdul Aziz, who arrived from the country’s northern city Bagura , told Anadolu Agency, holding a party flag.

Mohammad Jashim Uddin, an opposition party supporter from the coastal district of Barguna, told Anadolu Agency that they no longer want this government.

“This is a fascist regime that came to power by vote rigging and ballot stuffing,” he claimed, expressing indignation over the country’s price hikes of daily-use necessities.

“The price increase of daily commodities has reached a pinnacle as a result of the government’s misrule. We now want change through a peaceful election conducted by a neutral government,” he said.​​

People have lost faith in this government’s ability to conduct free and fair elections, as evidenced by the 2014 and 2018 elections, he said, continuing to blame the government in the same breath.


[Photo:  Protest held outside HQ of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) at Naya Paltan area of ​​the capital Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 07, 2022 against government arrested opposition leaders. One person killed many injured by police. Photojournalist :art. Kamruzzaman/AA]

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