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Sheikh Hasina`s mega alliance to boycott polls

Bangladesh main opposition alliance leader Sheikh Hasina speaks at a press conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh recently. -AP

Putting a question mark on parliamentary elections in Bangladesh scheduled for January 22, the main opposition alliance led by Sheikh Hasina Wajed Wednesday announced a boycott of the polls, saying it cannot be free and fair under President Iajuddin Ahmed.

"We have decided not to take part in the election as we can`t give legitimacy to any poll which is set to be rigged under a blueprint," former Prime Minister and Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina told a crowded press conference here.

Flanked by alliance partners including former military ruler H M Ershad of Jatiya Party and ex-president Badruddoza Chowdhury of Liberal Democratic Party, she said they had tried "everything possible" to take part in the polls "knowing it well that Iajuddin is neither non-partisan nor neutral but expected him to act in line with the constitution in the interest of the people".

However, "it appeared impossible as Iajuddin was "acting at the dictate of the Hawa Bhaban to manipulate the polls," she said in an oblique reference to her archival Khaleda Zia, former premier and leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party combine that included fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party.

"We want to take part in the polls which will reflect the peoples will, but that is not possible keeping Iajuddin as the chief advisor of the interim caretaker administration. He has installed a shadow BNP-Jamaat government instead of an non-party government," she said amid huge applause from alliance partners and supporters.

The decision by the alliance to boycott the polls has raised the spectre of violence in Bangladesh. Hasina called for a two nationwide blockade to press for Iaujjidin`s resignation.



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