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Sheikh Hasina: Tens of thousands protest in Bangladesh to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister

New Delhi

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dhaka on Saturday demanding the dissolution of parliament to make way for new elections and demanding the resignation of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The mass protest in the capital was organized by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which blames Hasina for failing to cope with rising fuel prices and the cost of living.

Saturday’s demonstration comes amid a wave of protests in Bangladesh calling for Hasina to step down and demanding new elections.

Hasina responded by calling opposition leaders “incendiary terrorists” and warning people against the return to power of the BNP – the largest opposition party.

Several arrests were made ahead of Saturday’s protest.

Police on Friday arrested two top BNP leaders, including the party’s general secretary, Mirza Alamgir. Authorities said Alamgir faces charges, without giving further details.

At least one man died in clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday when security forces fired tear gas to disperse people gathered outside the BNP office in the capital.

Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh’s information and broadcasting minister, said authorities believed the man was dead after being injured by [Molotov] cocktails prepared by the activists and accused the BNP of “creating chaos”, according to a report by state media BSS.

The Bangladesh Election Commission has not announced a date for the next general elections, which are due to be held by the end of 2023.

The Bangladesh Awami League, led by Hasina, 75, has been in power since 2009.

Hasina won a third consecutive term as prime minister in 2018 in a nationwide election marred by deadly violence and allegations of ballot rigging.

Bangladesh opposition party supporters demonstrate against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government on December 10, 2022.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, criticized the government’s response to the protests.

“Concerned governments should publicly request the prime minister to allow Bangladeshis to freely engage in peaceful political activities,” she said.

“Sheikh Hasina should accept the challenge of democratic rule, not authoritarian abuse.”

U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D. Haas said in a statement Thursday that the embassy was concerned about reports of political intimidation and violence and urged authorities to investigate and protect people’s freedoms. expression and peaceful assembly.

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