DHAKA - Bangladeshi opposition leader Khaleda Zia Wednesday called for new polls under a non-partisan technocratic administration, warning of a fresh wave of protests if the government failed to accept her demand.

Zia, a two-time former Prime Minister, boycotted a January 5 general election fearing that Hasina would rig the vote with a biased election commission and a ‘partisan’ civil administration. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the disputed polls, Zia said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had broken a pledge to hold a dialogue and pave the way for ‘inclusive elections’ very shortly. Instead, she said, her bitter rival had broken the promise, killing democracy in the process. ‘The polls must be held under a neutral non-partisan administration so that all parties can take part and a level playing field is created,’ she told a press briefing in the capital Dhaka.

‘Only an inclusive general election is the way out from the crisis and the government must meet the demand for the betterment of the country,’ she said. She said her party would hold nationwide protests on January 5 to mark the first anniversary of ‘democracy killing day’ after Hasina went ahead with the polls last year despite a boycott by a Zia-led 20 party opposition alliance.

The unprecedented boycott meant there was no contest in the majority of the country's 300 parliamentary seats, allowing Hasina to romp home with a massive landslide. Zia further unveiled a six-point charter of demands including reform of the country's controversial election commission and the release of all political leaders whom she said were being prosecuted on trumped up charges. Hasina's government has ruled out any polls before her term expires in 2019, and has launched a crackdown to prevent the opposition from organising mass protests ahead of the polls anniversary.