Bangladesh to deploy army ahead of general elections

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Amid continued tensions, army personnel will be deployed across Bangladesh to assist the civil administration in ensuring security ahead of the country’s general elections slated for January 7, 2024, according to a poll body official. Bangladeshi Election Commission Secretary Md Jahangir Alam told journalists that President Mohammed Shahabuddin on Sunday approved in principle the deployment of the army during the upcoming general elections, reports Xinhua news agency.

Army personnel would be deployed as a striking force, Jahangir Alam said, adding that the decision came from a meeting between the president and the chief election commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Sunday. Earlier, the commission announced its plan to deploy troops across the country for 13 days starting on December 29 in preparation for the crucial polls against a backdrop of heightened political tensions.

Since late October, the country’s opposition parties have observed blockades in the 11th phase to mount pressure on the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party government to quit power and hold the next election under a non-partisan administration. The opposition movement has reportedly led to vandalism of vehicles and arson attacks, with deadly clashes between police and workers in Dhaka and elsewhere in the South Asian country almost every day since late October.

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Meanwhile, the deadline for candidates to withdraw from the 12th national polls expired on Sunday. Up to 2,260 candidates from 28 political parties, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s AL and its major ally Jatiya Party, and those running independently, were approved. The ruling AL party General Secretary Obaidul Quader Sunday said it will share some seats with the Jatiya Party and other alliance partners and withdraw the party nominees in such constituencies.