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Ruling party assured of victory in Bangladesh elections

  |   Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:30 PM
DHAKA, Bangladesh, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Officials said this weekend's elections will go on as scheduled in Bangladesh, where more than half of the national assembly races have already been decided.

The ruling Awami League is assured of victory in a field devoid of challengers, and analysts expect the election to deepen the country's political turmoil, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Sunday's elections are being boycotted by opposition candidates, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which says the election process is heavily tilted in favor of the ruling party. Opponents cite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League disposal, through a 2011 constitutional change, of a neutral system that had overseen elections in the country since 1996.

Hasina, 65, has denied attempting to influence the election.

The government has denied opposition claims that Nationalist Party leader Begum Khalweda Zia, 67, is under house arrest. Senior Nationalist Party leader Selima Rahman said police have kept Zia's house "cordoned off and she is under de facto house arrest" but police say their presence at Zia's home is for her protection.

The United States and the European Union declined to send observers to Sunday's election, casting further doubt on the credibility of the vote.

Political analysts say the election is unlikely to improve conditions in Bangladesh.

"If the country is closed for political dialogue, it will be difficult to convince the world that it is open for business," said Shahiduzzaman, a Dhaka University professor of security studies and international relations.

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