Troubled Bangladesh vote won't end crippling blockades

The opposition Bangladesh National Party's near-constant call for hartals, or blockades, brought many businesses to a halt, taking a toll on the vital garment trade.

A.M. Ahad/AP
A Bangladeshi family waits for transportation during a 48-hours nationwide strike called by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) against Sunday's general election, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Bangladesh's ruling Awami League expected to cruise to a pre-ordained victory amid a mass opposition boycott, that made the results a foregone conclusion.

The polls have closed in Bangladesh’s Sunday national elections, with the ruling Awami League expected to cruise to a pre-ordained victory amid a mass opposition boycott. But the country’s bitter political gridlock is expected to continue, and so will the hartals and blockades, which have a debilitating practical effect on everyday work life in Bangladesh.

Hartals, our correspondent on the ground in Dhaka explains, are basically general strikes during which party activists ensure that “there is no transport on the street anywhere” in terms of cars and buses – and they have a long history in Bangladesh’s turbulent political culture. Blockades, in which activists effectively block the roads in and out of major cities, have taken a toll on the country’s vital garment trade.

The opposition Bangladesh National Party’s near-constant call for hartals and blockades during the last few months brought many forms of business grinding to a halt, with many work weeks reduced to just a handful of days.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Frontier Markets.

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