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DHAKA, Jan. 4, 2024 (TBINN)

This year, in South Asia, Bangladesh will be the first country to hold elections this year, featuring the least uncertainty.

While main Opposition party is boycotting the polls, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the ruling Awami League party are all but guaranteed a fourth consecutive term.

It is expected that this outcome will be roundly condemned by Hasina’s critics at home and will also raise concerns among western governments that already worry the Awami League is dismantling democracy and leading Bangladesh to become a virtual one-party state. But throughout South Asia, where most governments view Hasina as someone they can work with, the reaction will be more sanguine.

It is now for many years, the Awami League has cracked down on opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (B.N.P.) and against dissent more broadly. Since opposition protests turned violent in October, these crackdowns have intensified, with many B.N.P. leaders now jailed. The B.N.P. vowed to boycott the elections unless Hasina stepped down in favor of a care-taker government to oversee the vote.

Bangladeshi opposition points to the 2018 election, which was widely seen as rigged and the growing climate of oppression as evidence of an unfair playing field. Awami League rejects the care-taker demand because their supreme court declared the country’s care-taker clause illegal in 2011, when Hasina was already in power, leading to its abolition.

United States and the European Union have both pressured Bangladesh to hold free and fair elections.

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