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The Big Story

Bangladeshi voters wary of ruling party despite economic growth

Critics of Prime Minister Hasina say little chance that polls will be fair

GWEN ROBINSON, Editor-at-large, Nikkei Asian Review | Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan

DHAKA -- A government that has presided over remarkable economic growth should, in normal circumstances, enjoy broad support. But public protests and political violence have surged ahead of Bangladesh's national elections on Dec. 30, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League will stand for a third consecutive five-year term.

The prime minister's opponents -- a disparate coalition led by Kamal Hossain, a former family friend and Awami League minister -- say Hasina's iron grip on power will prevent a fair election. Daily reports of arbitrary detentions and physical attacks on opposition members suggest the ruling party is utilizing its political machinery and control of security forces. The media, though partially muzzled by a tough new digital security law, seem emboldened by the rising political temperature.

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