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DHAKA: Bangladesh will hold a general election on January 7, the country’s chief election commissioner said Wednesday, a vote opposition parties have threatened to boycott fearing that it will be rigged.

“The 12th parliamentary election will be held on January 7 in 300 seats,” chief election commissioner Habibul Awal said in a live television broadcast, urging parties to hold talks to resolve the political crisis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has led the South Asian country for the past 15 years and has been accused of ruling with an iron fist.

She is seen as almost certain to return to power for a fourth time if the opposition boycott goes ahead.

Hasina has overseen impressive economic growth but Western nations have sounded the alarm over democratic backsliding and she has been accused by the opposition of vote-rigging at the past two polls.

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