Awami League women supporters protest against BNP leader Khaleda Zia

Dhaka, Jan.1: Women supporters of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League Party staged protests against opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia on Tuesday, saying that she was to blame for violence in the country.

The irate protesters shouted slogans against Zia and burnt her effigy in Dhaka.

Awami League Member of Parliament Sahida Tareq Dipti said the protest was organised to condemn Khaleda Zia’s action in public.

Violence has gripped the country as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League press ahead with the January 5 vote.

The opposition says it will not take part in the vote unless an interim government oversees it and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina steps down.

The boycott means more than half of 300 parliament seats will go uncontested, undermining the legitimacy of the election and making it highly unlikely it will do anything to restore stability in one of the world’s poorest countries.

More than 200 people have been killed in political violence this year, half of them since November 25, when the Election Commission announced the date for the vote.

Rolling strikes staged by the opposition and blockades of roads, rail lines and waterways are also hurting the $22 billion garment export industry, which has already been under a cloud because of a string of fatal incidents.

Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former national leaders, have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades.

The antagonism between them has frustrated attempts at reconciliation. (ANI)