Bangladesh will hold general elections on Sunday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set to win a fourth straight term and the fifth overall for her Awami League-led alliance, despite a bleak economy that required an IMF bailout last year.
Here are key facts about the election in the South Asian country of almost 170 million people:
* The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of the ailing former prime minister Khaleda Zia is boycotting the poll after Hasina denied their demand to step down and make way for a caretaker government to run the election.
* Women make up almost half of the nearly 120 million eligible voters, while first-time voters number about 15 million.
* Vying for 300 parliamentary seats are a total of 1,896 candidates, 5.1% of them women, for the highest such share ever.
* Hasina has been credited with turning around the $416-billion economy and its massive garments industry, while also winning international praise for sheltering nearly a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.
* But in recent months, the economy, once among the world’s fastest growing, was rocked by violent protests, following a jump in the cost of living, as Bangladesh struggles to pay for costly energy imports amid depleting dollar reserves and a weakening domestic currency.
* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cleared the first review of Bangladesh’s $4.7 billion bailout in December, providing immediate access to about $468.3 million and made $221.5 million available for its climate change agenda.