Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League look forward towards 4th term amidst opposition boycotts

The deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh has become a focal point of international attention, notably centring on allegations of political repression. This includes a disturbing pattern of arrests, enforced disappearances, and even reported killings targeting opposition supporters.

As Bangladesh gears up for general elections on January 7, the political landscape is marked by controversy and concerns over the democratic process. The ruling Awami League, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is poised for a fourth consecutive parliamentary term, with the main opposition parties opting to boycott the poll.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, major players in the opposition, are choosing to abstain from participating, citing doubts about the fairness of the election process. This decision follows the imprisonment of key opposition leaders, raising numerous questions.

The BNP and its allies have called for the establishment of a neutral interim government to oversee the elections, a plea that Prime Minister Hasina has categorically rejected. This demand reflects broader concerns about the integrity of the democratic process, as critics accuse Hasina of growing autocracy and repression of political opponents and the media.

Under Hasina’s leadership since 2009, the nation has achieved notable economic growth, becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. However, this success has come at a cost, with rising living expenses and inflation creating challenges for citizens.

The deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh has become a focal point of international attention, notably centring on allegations of political repression. This includes a disturbing pattern of arrests, enforced disappearances, and even reported killings targeting opposition supporters.

The geopolitical implications of Bangladesh’s relations with neighbouring countries India and China add further complexity. While Hasina’s government has garnered favour from Delhi for actions against ethnic insurgent groups in India’s northeast, concerns about democratic erosion may influence international perspectives.

As Bangladesh seeks a $4.7 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to address economic challenges, the post-election scenario may require tough economic measures. Concerns over the democratic process intensify as the opposition’s absence from the elections raises questions about the credibility and fairness of the electoral system.

The government’s economic policies, aimed at navigating challenges post-pandemic, further add to the intricate dynamics shaping Bangladesh’s political and socio-economic landscape. As the election unfolds, the narrative surrounding Bangladesh will be shaped by its adherence to democratic principles and economic stability which will shape the nation’s trajectory.