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Home > News > Report

Blockade paralyses life across Bangladesh

November 20, 2006 13:07 IST
Last Updated: November 20, 2006 13:17 IST

A nationwide indefinite blockade by the major political alliance of former opposition leader Sheikh Hasina on Monday disrupted life in the capital city as well as other major towns of Bangladesh.

The agitation was launched by Awami League-led 14-party alliance to force President Iajuddin Ahmed's interim caretaker government to oust the controversial Chief Election Commissioner and his three deputies for free and fair general elections in January 2007.

The highway-railway-waterway blockade disrupted transportation network as well as business. However, no major untoward incident was reported in the first few hours of the blockade. The authorities deployed more than 12,000 security personnel to maintain peace in the capital.

The blockade was resumed after a break of four days as the alliance said President Ahmed, who assumed the additional responsibility of the caretaker government, has failed to implement their 11-point demands that envisaged reconstitution of the election commission for being biased to former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's BNP-Jamaat alliance.

"We gave enough time to the caretaker government to meet our demands. But the president and the Chief Advisor have not paid heed to our demands. Now, we have no alternative but to go for our blockade programme again,'' AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil told UNI.

Hours before the resumption of the blockade Awami League president and leader of the 14-party alliance Sheikh Hasina met President Ahmed but no breakthrough was made.

Criticising the President for what he said -- 'wasting time to solve the political standoff' --he cautioned, "If the President and chief advisor does not take a strong and neutral stand against the conspiracy to implement the BNP-Jamaat's election-engineering plans, then the blockade programme would boil down to one-point demand -- ouster of Iajuddin.''

But President Ahmed's interim government cannot sack the Chief Election Commissioner under the Constitution without any specific allegation. He also cannot send the CEC on a forced leave as suggested by the alliance.

About the President's proposal to appoint two additional Election Commissioners to expand the four-member EC as a way to resolve the stand-off, the AL General Secretary said without removing CEC Justice Aziz, the idea of inducting two new ECs is nothing but a ploy to implement BNP-Jamaat's evil designs for vote rigging.

Amid the deepening crisis, the President has decided to send a delegation to CEC Aziz on Monday to discuss the situation and see whether Aziz would stand down or go on leave to resolve the problem.

Meanwhile, ex-PM and Miss Khaleda Zia's four-party alliance cautioned that the caretaker government cannot go beyond the constitutional provisions while reforming the election commission.

On Saturday, Zia and BNP's senior leaders met President Ahmed and advised him not to bow down to any illogical demands by her opponents. She pressed for immediate announcement of the election schedule. But Hasina warned that hurried declaration of the election schedule without removing the CEC and his deputies would not be acceptable to them.

Last week's four-day blockade paralysed life in the country. Besides business establishments, schools, too, remained closed.


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