Election day is scheduled for the next year. It may erupt at first.
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against the Bangladeshi government in Dhaka and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Increasing political unrest, increased repression of dissent, a problem in the cost of living, and broader worries about the country’s precarious economy all contributed to the demonstrators’ call for new elections.
While recent power outages and an increase in fuel costs served as the catalyst for the most recent anti-government demonstrations, they are merely a symptom of Bangladesh’s fundamental economic problems. Due to a drop in garment exports and remittance inflows, the nation’s foreign exchange reserves are fast decreasing. The entire amount of foreign debt held by Bangladesh increased by 238 percent, to $91.43 billion, between 2011 and 2021. (For comparison, Sri Lanka’s debt increased by 119% during the same time period—and it didn’t turn out well either.) Thousands of unemployed textile workers are now on the verge of starvation after the inflation rate reached around 9% in November. It just became the third country in South Asia to apply for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2022, after Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Bangladesh was leading South Asia’s economic development due to its sizable youth population. The nation’s tale of rising from poverty is now being threatened by the instability in its politics and economy.