Bangladesh's opposition leader Khaleda Zia, left, faces 17 years in jail, while many more cases are being investigated. Photo: AFP

Bangladesh’s main opposition party declared on Sunday that it would not boycott next month’s general election and would challenge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the polls, despite the jailing of party leader Khaleda Zia.

“We have announced that we will participate in the election,” Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) senior leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told AFP.

The BNP boycotted the 2014 election that returned Hasina to power over fears it would be rigged.

The party said it fears that this poll, which the election commission has scheduled for December 23, will not be democratic and has vowed to stage protests.

Zia, 73, remains in jail, serving a decade-long term after being convicted of corruption charges her supporters insist were politically motivated.

– With additional reporting from Agence France-Presse

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