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Central & South Asia
Bangladesh strike paralyses Dhaka
Normal life in capital disrupted as nationwide strike takes hold against government move to amend constitution.
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2011 05:47

A nationwide strike called by the opposition against government plans to amend the constitution has crippled Dhaka, the country's capital.

Shops were closed and traffic was disrupted as thousands of security personnel fanned out across the city on Sunday.

The opposition's dawn-to-dusk general strike is to protest against government moves to throw out a provision that requires it to give power to a non-partisan administration to oversee elections at the end of its term.

The strike shut down schools and shops in Dhaka, a city of 12 million people, and most buses and cars were off the roads.

Police detained more than 60 opposition members who attempted to hold a street protest in the centre of the city, according to private television station ATN News.

There was no strike-related damage reported on Sunday, a working day in Bangladesh, but police said protesters set fire to at least 11 buses on Saturday.

Benazir Ahmed, Dhaka police commissioner, said thousands of security personnel fanned out in Dhaka and elsewhere on Sunday to prevent violence.

History of violence

Bangladesh has a history of political violence, and opposition groups commonly use general strikes as a tactic to further their demands.

The opposition groups, led by Khaleda Zia, the former prime minister, accuse the government of trying to cling to power after its five-year term ends in 2014.

The government denies the allegation.

According to the constitution, prime ministers must step down after a five-year term to allow a non-partisan administration to conduct new polls in three months.

A former chief justice is usually chosen to head the caretaker administration.

Sheikh Hasina's government recently said the caretaker provision should be repealed because it puts an unelected government in power.

The move came after the country's Supreme Court ruled that the provision, included in the constitution in 1996, is undemocratic.

Since the provision's introduction, Bangladesh has held three parliamentary polls supervised by interim caretaker governments.

Source:
Agencies
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