The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and affiliated wings have called for nationwide demonstrations to denounce a decision made by a Dhaka court on October 10, sentencing BNP leader Tarique Rahman to life in jail in absentia over a 2004 grenade attack that targeted current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Some 19 others, including two former ministers, have been sentenced to death over the deadly attack. A nationwide black flag procession initially scheduled for October 16, has been postponed to October 21. Related human chains are scheduled to take place on October 20 and 22.
Separately, another opposition party, the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), announced that a nationwide sit-in protest will take place on October 23. In the capital Dhaka, demonstrators are expected to gather between 11:00 and 15:00 (local time) outside of the Jatiya Press Club. The LDA demand that the government step down and form a caretaker government ahead of the December general elections. A memorandum will be submitted to the President on October 29, which could lead to further localized protests.
Precedents indicate that associated clashes between rival groups or with security forces are to be expected.
Opposition parties are likely to increase the frequency of their protests in the run-up to the general elections scheduled to take place in the third week of December, although no specific date has been set as of yet. Rahman, in exile in the UK since 2008, will run the opposition's campaign from London. This ruling is perceived by the opposition as another attempt to destabilize them prior to the electoral period.
Individuals present in Bangladesh, particularly in Dhaka and Chittagong, are advised to avoid all public gatherings and demonstrations due to the risk of violence and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities.
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