Bangladesh poll date sparks protest

Bangladesh's opposition alliance rejects the date set for polls.

    The opposition Awami League has been agitating against the elction body

    Unless the election commission cancels the schedules by next Saturday, we will launch a new wave of protests, including an indefinite transport blockade from Sunday," Abdul Jalil, general-secretary of the Awami League, told reporters.


    At least 40 people were killed and hundreds injured in similar blockades and other protests since late October over the alliance's demand for restructuring of the commission.


    The violence forced MA Aziz, the chief election commissioner, to go on three months' leave, leaving one of his deputies, Mahfuzur Rahman, in charge.




    Jalil said thousands of alliance activists would gather around the presidential palace in Dhaka on Thursday, blocking all the roads, "to build pressure on President Iajuddin Ahmed to give up the post of chief adviser of the caretaker government".


    "He has failed to prove his neutrality, " Jalil said.


    The opposition alliance had asked the interim government in charge of overseeing the vote not to unveil poll details before reorganising the election body.


    It has accused the commission of being biased towards Begum Khaleda Zia, who ended her five-year term as prime minister in October, and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).


    The alliance also called for voting lists to be updated before the election date was announced, saying they included 1.4 million fake voters.


    But the interim government ignored the request, sparking fears of more trouble following weeks of political violence.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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