Bangladesh authorities clamp down on dissent ahead of election anniversary

Police in Bangladesh have banned all protests and political rallies in the capital Dhaka and confined the main opposition leader to her office. Bangladesh is facing the first anniversary of controversial elections.

Bangladeshi police stand guard in front of the house of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Khaleda Zia in Dhaka on January 4, 2015.

Authorities in Bangladesh said they were attempting to mitigate rising tensions on Sunday by banning all protests, rallies and demonstrations in the capital Dhaka ahead of Monday’s one-year anniversary of a vote which had been boycotted by the opposition party.

“We imposed the ban as rival rallies by political parties raised fears of clashes,” Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told news agency AFP.

The ban was effective from 5 p.m. local time Sunday, (1100 UTC) until further notice. Protests had been planned by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The party’s leader, Khaleda Zia , had to spend the night to Sunday in her Dhaka office.

“She has been confined in her office. Police have cordoned off the area and barricaded [the] road. She wanted to see a sick party colleague around midnight, but they did not let her out,” an aide of Zia, S.R. Shimul Biswas told AFP news agency.

However Police Inspector Firoz Kabir denied Zia was being forcibly detained.

“We’ve not detained her, only her security has been enhanced. She is not leaving her office,” he said.

The BNP and its political allies boycotted the January 5, 2014 election amid concerns that the vote would be rigged, after the government did not allow a caretaker administration to oversee the poll. The opposition refers to the vote, which was marked by deadly violence , as “Democracy Killing Day.”

The decision by Zia and her allies to boycott the election, which she dubbed a “scandalous farce,” meant that the governing Awami League, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina , won a landslide victory. Hasina and Zia have been bitter rivals for decades.

Source: DW