Many hurt in Bangladesh violence

Interim president and army chief discuss ways to tame unrest before January 22 vote.

    Activists of the Awami-led alliance have repeatedly clashed with security personnel [AFP]

    The opposition alliance, which has threatened to block access to the presidential palace on Tuesday, wants Iajuddin to resign but he has refused.
     
    Army troops patrolling the streets of Dhaka have so far avoided direct confrontation with the activists.
     
    About 70 people including police were injured on Sunday.

    Buses and lorries were off the roads on Monday, deliveries from ports were suspended, and most businesses were closed.

    Agitation

    The opposition alliance, led by Sheikh Hasina Wajed, head of the Awami League and a former prime minister, called for the blockade in protest at what it sees as the interim government's inability to hold a free and fair election.

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    "Why can't people in this country resolve their differences in a civilised way instead of resorting to violence and anarchy?"

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    It says Iajuddin, as the head of the interim authority, has failed to act neutrally and favours Hasina's rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, in the polls.

    The alliance has threatened to block access to the presidential palace on Tuesday.

    US and European diplomats have expressed concern that Bangladesh is heading into a period of serious political instability.

    Analysts say the only way out would be to postpone elections, which Hasina has demanded and Khaleda has opposed.

    At least 45 people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes between political rivals since Khaleda ended her five-year tenure as prime minister in late October and handed power to the interim authority.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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