Bangladesh opposition organizes protests demanding Prime Minister Hasina’s resignation | Protest news
Thousands of supporters of Bangladesh’s main opposition party rallied across Bangladesh’s cities to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the formation of an interim government to call a general election.
The Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and its allies staged protests in the capital Dhaka and nine other cities on Wednesday, the latest of several in recent months. here amid growing resentment at the rising cost of living.
Opposition and rights groups have criticized the Hasina government for suppressing anti-government protests.
Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, but rising global food and fuel costs related to the war in Ukraine forced Hasina’s government last year to prolong power cuts and expanding food distribution to the poor.
Several people were injured in the central city of Faridpur when supporters of the ruling Awami League attacked protesters while brandishing sticks and throwing Molotov cocktails.
Al Jazeera’s Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from Dhaka, said the political crisis appeared to be taking a “new dimension”.
“This protest is an ongoing movement, this particular day has been called by a coalition of 32 different political parties,” Chowdhury said from a gathering among thousands of people.
He said people from “all walks of life” had joined the protests to protest high food prices and express frustration at the government’s handling of crippling inflation.
“It looks like the movement will continue until there is some solution,” Chowdhury added.
“The time to take power by force is over,” said Mirza Abbas, senior leader of the BNP.
“Let a neutral government hold an election.”
Police estimated as many as 50,000 people attended the rally, spoken by Abbas, who was released from prison on Monday a month after a sweeping crackdown on opposition activists.
BNP officials say hundreds of thousands of people have come in Dhaka alone, along with thousands more to join sister rallies around the country.
“The cost of living is always a headache,” university student Abu Nayem told AFP news agency in Dhaka. “The government may not have a problem with this, but people like me are dying. I have come to protest against this careless indifference.”
The Bangladeshi taka has depreciated by as much as 25%, increasing the cost of food imports and making life harder for the country’s poorest citizens.
Meanwhile, police said at least four people were injured in clashes in Faridpur.
“We fired rubber bullets to control the situation,” a senior city police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Shama Obaed, the BNP leader at the Faridpur rally, told AFP that at least 100 people were injured and more than 30 were arrested.
The Awami Federation organized a much smaller protest in Dhaka in support of Hasina, who rejected her calls to leave.
“Extremists are gathering in one place to oust us from power,” she told supporters at a small gathering on Tuesday.
“Do not think that the party will collapse if shaken. Things are not that easy.”
Western governments and the United Nations have expressed concern about the political climate in Bangladesh, where Hasina’s party has dominated the legislature and runs it almost like a rubber stamp.
Two-time Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, president of the BNP and longtime rival to Hasina’s power, has been placed under house arrest after being convicted of corruption charges.
Washington imposed sanctions on top security officials in December 2021 for their roles in hundreds of forced disappearances and thousands of extrajudicial killings.
Hasina’s government has denied it was behind any forced disappearances of supporters and opposition leaders, and said many criminals had been killed in gun battles with militants. officer.