Dhaka - Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia on Tuesday called on citizens to stage a mass march to the capital Dhaka in a sharp escalation of protests aimed at derailing controversial January elections.
Around 115 people have died in clashes since late October when the opposition launched the protests calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign and make way for the polls to be held under a neutral caretaker government.
“I urge all citizens to march to Dhaka on December 29. This march is to say 'no' to these farcical elections and to say 'yes' to democracy,” Zia, a two-time former prime minister, said in a speech.
Zia's call came as the government insisted it would go ahead with the January 5 polls despite a boycott by opposition parties and major foreign nations announcing they won't send any election observers.
Her main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)and its 17 allies including the country's largest Islamist outfit, Jamaat-e-Islami party, are boycotting the polls, saying they fear it will be rigged by Hasina.