Opposition calls off blockade in Bangladesh | india | Hindustan Times
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Opposition calls off blockade in Bangladesh

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 19:05 IST
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Bangladesh's main opposition called off a four-day transport blockade on Thursday after the interim government bowed to pressure to replace an election chief accused of seeking to rig January polls.

"We have suspended our blockade but our movement will continue for free and fair elections. We want reconstitution of the election commission and revision of the existing voters' list which has 14 million fake voters," Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed said.

Sheikh Hasina said mass protests would be held outside the presidential palace and the election commission next Wednesday and Thursday.

Bangladesh has been paralysed by the nationwide transport blockade since Monday.

President Iajuddin Ahmed, who heads the country's interim government, announced late Wednesday that chief election commissioner MA Aziz would take three months' leave which would coincide with the national polls.

Aziz was accused by the opposition of trying to influence the parliamentary elections in favour of the outgoing government led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

It said fair polls were not possible with him in place because he and his deputies had drawn up a voter list with millions of phony voters and excluding many opposition supporters.

The caretaker government Thursday named former judge Mahfuzur Rahman, one of Aziz's three deputies, as the acting chief election commissioner.

The Awami League had earlier demanded that all three deputies be replaced along with Aziz.