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Bangladesh opposition announces three-day blockade

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Bangladesh opposition announces three-day blockade
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Dhaka: Bangladesh's main opposition Friday announced a 72-hour blockade from Saturday to press home its demand for a non-party caretaker government to oversee the Jan 5 national elections.

Rizvi Ahmed, senior spokesperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), made the announcement of rail, road and waterway blockade, demanding a free and fair election under the caretaker polls-time government, Xinhua reported.

Former prime minister Khaleda Zia's main opposition alliance has decided to enforce the shutdown to protest the government's "conspiracy to hold a one-sided election", Ahmed said.

Earlier, the BNP-led opposition alliance observed a 71-hour countrywide blockade which ended Friday morning amid violent clashes, vandalism, arson and bomb explosions.

At least 24 people, including a paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh soldier, were reportedly killed and hundreds others injured in stray incidents during the three-day blockade in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

Despite the opposition's threat to boycott, the Bangladesh Election Commission announced last week that the country's 10th parliamentary election will be held Jan 5 next year.

Khaleda Zia has asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to bring back the non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Both parties are seeking dialogue to end the impasse over the formation of the polls-time government, but no headway has been made so far.

Bangladesh plunged into a major political crisis in late 2006 and returned to democracy after two years of army-backed rule following a widely acceptable parliament elections in 2008 under a caretaker government.

IANS

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