Hundreds of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters protested Sunday to mark International Human Rights Day, as the country gears up for a general election on Jan. 7 that the opposition says should be held under a non-partisan, caretaker government.
The party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, is boycotting the election, leaving voters in the South Asian nation of 166 million with little choice but to re-elect Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League for a fourth consecutive term.
At Sunday’s protest in front of the National Press Club in downtown Dhaka, opposition activists said they do not think a fair and free election can take place under Hasina’s watch. The gathering took place weeks after a massive opposition rally on Oct. 28 turned violent.
The party’s decision to boycott the polls comes amid a monthslong crackdown that has reportedly seen hundreds of opposition politicians jailed and critics silenced, an allegation authorities have denied.