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Bangladesh’s opposition party holds massive rally asking government to quit

Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis from across the country gathered in the capital Dhaka on Saturday to support the main opposition political party's demand that the present government should quit and elections are held under an apolitical interim framework.

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.

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.

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.

Source: Anadolu Agency