Bangladesh's senior civil servants were under orders on Thursday to weed out politically biased staff as the interim government moved to head off further protests by proving it can hold impartial elections.
President Iajuddin Ahmed, self-appointed head of the caretaker administration overseeing January polls, ordered the crackdown ahead of an Opposition deadline to make key political changes.
Thousands of activists took to the streets, leaving 23 dead in clashes, from Friday as opposition parties accused the outgoing government of trying to rig the polls by appointing biased interim officials.
"If we get any concrete suggestions that a particular official can influence the election process and result, the caretaker head has directed us to scrutinise the suggestion and take immediate action against such officials," said AFM Solaiman Chowdhury, secretary of the Establishment Ministry which controls civil service personnel changes.
The president's order, which could result in hundreds of middle-ranking officials being moved to other duties, came as the caretaker body raced to convince opposition parties of its neutrality.
The main opposition Awami League has set a Friday deadline for the temporary administration to show it can hold elections that do not favour the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
At their first meeting on Thursday the chief of the caretaker body and his 10 advisors, who will run the country until the next government wins power, said law and order had to be maintained.