A high-level US delegation is in Bangladesh, where the main opposition party has announced a nationwide agitation against the government. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), headed by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, has said that the movement will aim to press for a one-point demand for free and fair elections. Earlier, the US had said that the members of its delegation would also discuss the issue of holding free and fair elections in Bangladesh during their visit.
The BNP will start its agitation on July 18, but the announcement was made on Wednesday. Meanwhile, supporters of the BNP and the ruling Awami League are continuously holding rallies against each other on the streets of Dhaka. The Awami League has rejected BNP’s demand that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed recuse herself from politics before the next elections. Awami League has said that there will be no election without Sheikh Hasina.
The BNP has said that one of the main demands of its movement would be to form a caretaker government of neutral people in the country before the elections. For this, the present government should resign immediately and the present parliament should be dissolved. According to BNP, processions will be taken out across the country on July 18, but a special rally will be held in Dhaka. The BNP claims that 36 other parties have supported its campaign. A party functionary said- ‘The announcement of this movement is a historic moment in the political history of Bangladesh. This is a declaration to liberate the country. This is a campaign to get back the lost democracy of the country.
On Wednesday, the Dhaka Municipal Corporation announced several rules to control the rallies. Despite this, meetings were held at different places across the city. Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, a member of the Standing Committee of the BNP, said in a meeting, “Sheikh Hasina knows that she will have to step down. They also know which country will give them visas and which will not. Now there will be no compromise with them. There will be no elections in Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina’s rule.’ BNP leaders have named their campaign ‘Now, than Never’.
Meanwhile, the American delegation that came to Bangladesh has met the officials here. The delegation includes US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya and US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Donald Lu.
Observers believe that BNP wants to take advantage of this visit. She wants to signal to the US delegation that most of the country’s opposition parties do not have faith in the fairness of the elections held under Sheikh Hasina’s government. America has already expressed concern over the political condition of Bangladesh.