DHAKA - A High Court division bench in Bangladesh on Tuesday said a convict jailed to more than two years cannot contest the election.

The High Court division bench of Justice Mohammad Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam passed the order, rejecting an appeal seeking a stay order on the imprisonment of ex-Prime Minister Minister Khaleda Zia’s five opposition (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) BNP leaders.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told journalists shortly after the court ruling that ex-PM Khaleda Zia, who was found guilty of a corruption charge and sentenced to five years in prison in February, is “ineligible” for general elections slated for Dec. 30. A BNP spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The major opposition alliance led by ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP has already announced to contest the parliamentary polls slated for next month.

BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir made the announcement, urging the government to ensure a level playing field for holding a free, fair and neutral election.

The ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which rose to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won its second term in 2014, is facing challenges from Zia’s BNP and its allies, which boycotted the 2014 elections.

BNP has been demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners including BNP chairperson Zia, who has been in jail since February in a corruption case.

Hasina’s ruling Bangladesh Awami League party said the release of Khaleda Zia, also chairperson of BNP, from jail is a matter of

court’s decision.