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Awami League to announce fresh protests to resist polls

The government, meanwhile, has come under pressure from the global community to create conditions for fair and transparent polls.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 13:27 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The Awami League (AL)-led mega alliance is set to announce a series of fresh protests on Wednesday to register their opposition to the January 22 general elections as the interim Bangladesh government came under pressure from the international community to create conditions for fair and transparent polls.

Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is due to address a grand rally at Dhaka's Paltan Maidan later on Wednesday, a day after riot police came down heavily on the mega alliance activists using water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas and batons leaving over 200 people, including several senior leaders injured.

There is speculation that the alliance new protest plans might include non-stop blockade and general strikes to resist the holding of January 22 elections.

Demonstrations are already planned for tomorrow to protest the police atrocities on its workers and leaders, including Tofail Ahmed and Rashed Khan Menon, during the blockade.

AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil told journalists last night that they would not allow the holding of any polls under Iaujuddin Ahmed.

"The chief adviser, who does not want a free and fair election, is responsible for the current political stalemate".

"There is still time and help in holding an all-party polls instead unleashing police brutality," he added.

Khaleda Zia's BNP-led alliance has vowed to go to the hustings to "protect the constitution."

But efforts were underway for an acceptable election after the US, Britain, EU, Canada and other major donors said a "one-sided" election would not be "credible or acceptable."

Britain, Australia and the United Nations have also expressed their concern, saying a "one-sided" election would not be acceptable to the international community while the European Union has decided to pull out their observers who were to monitor the January 22 elections.

Hasina's mega alliance has decided to boycott the polls, saying it was "set to be rigged under a blueprint" in favour of her arch-rival's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party combine.

Khaleda, already elected unopposed in the polls boycotted by the mega alliance along with 18 others in the 300-seat parliament, is set to visit eastern Comilla today to carry out the election campaign for combine candidates for the second day.

The Home Ministry on Tuesday said that, as part of their election duties, the army troops would be in action for election duties for 20 days from Wednesday with powers of arresting anyone without any warrant, a magistracy power which was offered to army only for one day during the last 2001 polling.

Ten senior former military officers yesterday urged the interim government and the political forces to be "cautious" in taking any decision involving army.

About 40,000 troops along with 20,000 other security personnel would be in action from today to maintain order for the January 22 election, home ministry officials said.

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