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Bangladesh braces for another opposition strike

Written by: Staff

Dhaka, Jun 13: Hundreds of riot police patrolled streets and guarded key buildings in the Bangladesh capital today as a two-day opposition-led strike took hold.

An opposition alliance led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina called the strike to try to force the government to accept demands for electoral reform ahead of next January's parliamentary election.

The demands include the removal of the election commissioner and a say in the caretaker administration to be appointed to run the country ahead of the polls.

Fears of fresh violence gripped the city of 10 million after two days of clashes saw around 300 people injured and hundreds more detained at the weekend.

Ministers and senior officials went to work with heavy police escorts and traffic in Dhaka was generally much lighter than normal.

''We are not going to leave the streets despite continuing police atrocities,'' said Mohammad Nasim, a senior leader of Hasina's Awami League and a former Home Minister.

Nasim and other senior party officials were beaten by police during an attempted opposition blockade of the capital on Sunday, which led to the latest strike.

The standoff between opposition and ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) triggered noisy debate in parliament yesterday, resulting in a walkout by the Awami lawmakers.

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia's five-year term will end in October when the caretaker administration, appointed by the president in consultation with the government, will take over until January's election.


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