In the highly controversial elections of February 15, 1996, under the Khaleda Zia government, which Awami League, in the opposition then, boycotted, the turnout was only about 20 per cent. However, the question of the legality of that parliament never arose. It was this parliament that passed the 13th Constitution amendment Bill incorporating the “non-party caretaker system”. The BNP demanded that the 2013 parliamentary elections be held under a non-party caretaker government, a system the outgoing parliament reversed. Though the new parliament may be controversial in the eyes of the parties that did not join the election or failed to stop it, observers say in no way can it be termed “illegitimate”. However, its political legitimacy may be questioned because it was not fully participatory.
There was no guarantee that the Khaleda Zia-led alliance would have joined the election even if it was rescheduled. The ruling party tried to negotiate with the opposition to find common ground which was acceptable to all parties. Sheikh Hasina herself invited Khaleda Zia for discussion, but the latter refused.
The U.S.-backed international community sided with the anti-election grouping, lending vital support to the Jamaat and the BNP. The E.U. and the U.S. have repeatedly requested everyone to not resort to violence, but without any specifics.