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Over 100,000 protest, demand Bangladesh PM resignation

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More than 100,000 supporters of two major Bangladesh opposition parties gathered in the capital city of Dhaka to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday.

They are pushing for her resignation to allow a free and impartial vote under a neutral government ahead of a general election scheduled to take place within three months.

The protests were organized by the primary opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and the largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of the country’s founding leader, has been in power for 15 years.

Her tenure has witnessed rapid economic growth, with Bangladesh surpassing its neighbor India in GDP per capita.

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However, her government is grappling with rising inflation, allegations of corruption, and human rights abuses.

The opposition’s protests have been ongoing for several months, despite the BNP’s leader, Khaleda Zia, being under house arrest after a corruption conviction.

Supporters of Khaleda Zia arrived in Dhaka on Saturday, with some riding on top of packed trains to join the rally.

The demonstrators at the BNP protest in front of the party’s headquarters chanted slogans such as “Vote thief, vote thief, Sheikh Hasina vote thief.”

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Sekandar Badsha, a 24-year-old student activist, demanded the “immediate resignation of the Hasina government, release of our leader Khaleda Zia, and the establishment of the people’s right to vote.”

Officials deployed at least 10,000 police officers to maintain order during the protests.

Police used tear gas and rubber bullets during these clashes, which resulted in some police officers sustaining injuries.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police estimated that more than 100,000 people attended the BNP rally, while approximately 25,000 joined the Jamaat protest in the city’s main commercial district.

The Jamaat protest had initially been banned by police, but around 3,000 protesters managed to break through police lines.

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Police also arrested at least 200 BNP supporters near the party’s headquarters, accusing them of hurling Molotov cocktails

A BNP spokesman, Zahir Uddin Swapan, claimed that over one million people participated in their rally, which he described as their “final call” for Hasina’s resignation. He added that over 2,900 of their activists and supporters had been detained in the past week.

If Hasina does not voluntarily step down, the opposition has threatened to escalate their protests by calling for strikes and blockades.

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