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Home > News > PTI

Bangla violence toll 23, calm after president takes charge

October 30, 2006 16:59 IST

Security forces were put on alert in Bangladesh on Monday after President Iajuddin Ahmed took charge of the caretaker government, triggering protests from the opposition which vowed to continue its campaign which has claimed more than 20 lives.

The capital was tense with the opposition taking to the streets. The army had been put on stand-by, media reports said. However, there was no independent confirmation.

Four days of street violence paralysed the country and left at least 23 people dead and hundreds injured.

Special security, which was withdrawn two days ago, were reinstalled on Monday at the residence of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed who spearheaded the campaign for electoral reforms triggering widespread violence.

The country faced a political crisis when the five-year tenure of BNP-led government ended on Friday and former Supreme Court Chief Justice K M Hasan declined to head a caretaker government amid opposition rejection and fierce street violence.

Ending the power vacuum, President Ahmed on Sunday night took oath as the head of a caretaker government to oversee parliamentary polls due in January.

After taking oath, Ahmed sought the cooperation of political parties to hold free and fair general elections early next year and restore peace in the country.

Earlier on Sunday Ahmed held talks with leaders of four major political parties for finding a consensus candidate to head an interim administration.

Many newspapers, including the Daily Star, criticised Ahmed's decision to crown himself as the caretaker chief.

The Daily Star in an editorial "President's gamble" asked if the move would "heal the rift" between Bangladesh's bikering political divide.

"The nation and the world are looking and he will be only good as his actions," it said.

The opposition has termed his taking charge as "a violation of the constitution" but did not reject him outright, saying they would watch his activities first before taking any decision.

President Ahmed, a widely respected university teacher, was appointed president by the outgoing Prime Minister Khaleda Zia when it assumed power.

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