DHAKA - Bangladesh’s Chief Election Commissioner (EC) KM Nurul Huda said on Thursday night that the country’s 11th general elections will be held on Dec. 23. Huda made the announcement in a televised speech to the nation.

According to the schedule, election aspirants will have to submit their nomination papers by Nov. 19.

And the last date for withdrawing candidature is fixed on Nov. 29, it said. The announcement came despite the major opposition alliance’s plea to delay in declaring the schedule for the 11th parliamentary polls. The Election Commission said it is to hold the national elections as the term of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League (AL) party will end in January, 2019.

AL, which rose to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won its second term in 2014, now eyes for the third consecutive victory.

AL is facing challenges from former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, which boycotted the 2014 elections.

BNP has been demanding parliament polls be held under a non-party government and release of Khaleda Zia who was jailed in February in a graft case.

Khaleda Zia’s BNP last month forged a new alliance “Jatiya Oikya Front (United National Front)”.

The newly formed opposition alliance urged the EC to delay in announcing the election schedule as it was waiting for an outcome of the dialogue.

On Wednesday, for the second time the alliance leaders held dialogue with Prime Minister Hasina and her party leaders over the general election.

The alliance led by Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister and a prominent lawyer who drafted Bangladesh constitution after the country’s independence, has been demanding the upcoming polls be held under a nonpartisan government and the immediate release of all political prisoners including BNP chairperson Zia, who has been in jail since February in a corruption case.

The Ruling party said the election will be held under a polls-time government led by Prime Minister Hasina and the issue of Khaleda Zia is a matter of court.