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Central & South Asia

Bangladesh paralysed by opposition strike

Alliance of 18 opposition parties urge nationwide shutdown to press ruling party to give up power before elections.

Last Modified: 26 May 2013 23:23
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Police have often responded to protests by opening fire on demonstrators, leading to deaths [Al Jazeera]

Police say opposition activists have set off homemade bombs and damaged several vehicles in Bangladesh's capital as they launched a general strike demanding resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina before general elections, which are due early next year.

Police official Monirul Islam said no one had been injured in Sunday's incidents, and more than 10,000 security forces were deployed in the face of massive protests.

Many stores and schools were closed in Dhaka and few vehicles were plying the roads, following a call by an alliance of 18 opposition parties for a nationwide dawn-to-dusk shutdown.

The opposition wants Hasina to hand over power to a non-partisan caretaker administration before the elections, set for January 2014.

The government says the demand is unconstitutional. The opposition says polls under Hasina's government would not be free or fair.

Al Jazeera's Jona Hull, reporting from Dhaka, said that general strikes are a common opposition tactic in Bangladesh.

"There have been a total of 30 general strikes this year alone as a form of political protest by the opposition against the government in the run up to the election," he said.

"The Bangladesh National Party staged the strike because they want to see the release of their members held in police custody. They also want to see the lifting of a ban on protest gatherings and demonstrations."

"But key and central to their demands in the very tense pre-election period is they want to see the ruling Awami League party give up power to a neutral non-party, a caretaker government and to oversee free and fair elections."

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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