Mohammed Mohaddes, chief officer at the government's press department told AFP: "The president is becoming the caretaker chief."

Officials said that the president's swearing in had put to rest a long-running controversy over who should lead the caretaker authority, that would supervise the election in January 2007.

The decision came just hours after Iajuddin Ahmed, the Bangladeshi president, held emergency meetings with the country's four main parties in an effort to find a consensus on a candidate to head the interim government.

The outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the main opposition Awami League and its allies failed to agree on a candidate.

Rejected

The president sought proposals for the post other than retired and current supreme court justices, but the Awami League insisted, after the talks, that the head of the temporary administration should be drawn from this group.

Abdul Jalil, the Awami League secretary general, said: "We want the president to name the caretaker government chief from among the retired chief justices and justice of the supreme court except those who are holding constitutional positions."

The Awami League on Saturday rejected K M Hasan, a former supreme Court justice, claiming that he was a government stooge.

According to the constitution, the president can name anyone as the chief of the temporary administration after holding consultations with major parties.

Renewed violence

More violence came on Sunday after days of riots over the choice of a retired chief justice with ties to the outgoing government of Khaleda Zia, the Bangladeshi prime minister.

Lutfar Rahman Mandal, the district police chief, said that two men died on the southern Nijhum Dwip island, a third was kidnapped and stabbed to death on another southern island of Hatiya,

Another died of his wounds a day after being hit by rocks in the southern Pirojpur district, according to police reports.

The streets of the capital Dhaka were again deserted Sunday as people chose to stay at home amid escalating tension.

Police said opposition activists had put up blockades on many highways and the country's main port in the city of Chittagong suspended operations because of the disruption.