Bangladesh troops sent out to try to stem election violence

DHAKA Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:52am EST

Delegates listen to Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (pictured on screens) while she addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Delegates listen to Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (pictured on screens) while she addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

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DHAKA (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of troops fanned out across Bangladesh on Thursday in a bid to stem political violence ahead of next month's elections, which the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has boycotted.

Violence has gripped the country as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League press ahead with the January 5 vote.

BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia has called on Bangladeshis to march to the capital on Sunday to protest against the elections, declaring "democracy is dead".

The opposition says it will not take part unless an interim government is installed and Hasina steps down. Hasina wants to do away with the practice of installing a caretaker government.

With the BNP's boycott, more than half the 300 parliament seats will go uncontested, making it unlikely the vote will do anything to restore stability in one of the world's poorest countries.

The army will be deployed until January 9, an Election Commission official said.

People are shot, beaten or burned to death daily in clashes between rival groups and police. More than 200 people have died in political violence this year, half of them since November 25, when the Election Commission announced the date for the vote.

Rolling general strikes staged by the opposition and blockades of roads, rail lines and waterways are also hurting the $22 billion garment industry, which supplies some of the world's top retailers, employs four million people and accounts for 80 percent of the country's export earnings.

Hasina and Khaleda have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades, and mutual suspicion bordering on hatred has blocked attempts at reconciliation.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (1)
babul1 wrote:
Ruling party in Bangladesh is holding an one party election. Already they declared majority wining without contest 153/300 seats won without any contest. Violently suppressing the opposition. Security forces killed more than 200 protestors. Beating Journalists in the National Press club. Arresting and detaining thousands of opposition supporters. Attacked the supreme court and beaten up the Attorneys opposed to the Govt oppression. Former PM under house arrest, can’t even talk to the Journalists. Banned opposition TV Stn, and closed oppostion newspaper.Arrested the editors. Govt is very unpopular with people. 90% people wants free and fair election under CRETAKER Interim Govt, But Ruling Party is afraid they will lose big time in a free and fair election. To gain international support they are branding some pro islmic party as terrorist organisation. They country economy is in a MESS. The only country that support the Govt’s irrational and undemocratic means to hang on to Power is the neighboring India, an ally to the ruling Party.

Dec 29, 2013 11:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
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