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Bangladesh Elections: Army Chief Tacit Signal for Hasina's Re-election

Photo Courtesy DGISPR Bangladesh

Openly praising the Prime Minister’s leadership, on September 18, Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was implementing the dreams of Bangabandhu with her able and dynamic leadership.

He said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had dreamt to build a modern and time-befitting armed forces alongside building a "Sonar Bangla". The army chief said this during the inaugural function of a 15-storey residential building, with 112 flats, named "Senanir" for army personnel with different ranks at Sheikh Hasina Cantonment, Barishal as per DGISPR Bangladesh Press Release.

While the Bangladesh Army which had been dabbling in politics has stayed away from the same for the past one and a half decade, the statement by the Army Chief is significant which can also be interpreted as a tacit signal to all ranks of the military support to Sheikh Hasina for the forthcoming elections.

Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister for the past 15 years has promoted interests of the Armed Forces with an expansive Forces Goal 2030 for modernization, construction of new cantonments and other facilities for the troops.

Likely Elections Dates

Bangladesh general elections will be held in the first week of January. However, Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman informed the media earlier this month that the exact date is yet to be determined. The current parliament expires on January 29. According to the Constitution, national elections must be held within 90 days before the five-year term of parliament expires. The 90-day countdown starts on November 1.

The contest is expected to be keenly watched by the United States, Japan, UK and European Union member states who have made several calls for free and fair polls that have irked the government and the ruling party, the Awami League.

Election Commission Preparations

The Election Commission has started preparations for the coming national election. The Election Commissioner Md Alamgir informed that the commission is considering sending ballot papers to the polling stations in the morning of the National Parliamentary elections.

According to a draft list of polling centres, the Election Commission will have to set up a record 42,350 polling centres for the next national election. In the last national election held in December 2018, there were 40,183 polling centres.

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said the commission does not want the deputy commissioners to have any bias while discharging their duties. Speaking to reporters at the EC office in the capital's Agargaon, he said the commission will take necessary action if it finds any DC working with bias.

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