Mounting Pressure


"This present caretaker government has to go ahead with the preparation of the Election Commission, voters' list ... then we are ready to participate at any moment."


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The decision by the alliance came two days after it called off plans for new blockades and strikes in the poor South Asian country after president Iajuddin Ahmed gave in to mounting pressure and stepped down as head of an interim government tasked with holding the polls.


Iajuddin also imposed emergency laws to prevent violence and named Fakhruddin Ahmed, a respected economist and a former central bank governor, as the new caretaker chief.


Ahmed has begun forming a council of advisers to run his administration and is expected to open talks with the Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party of the previous prime minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, to build political consensus.


He is also expected to reform the Election Commission, redo the voters' lists and then set a schedule for the ballot in the Islamic country of 140 million people.