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Bangladesh tense ahead of opposition march

English.news.cn   2013-12-27 20:22:03            

DHAKA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- As the main opposition alliance in Bangladesh gears up for a "long march" to Dhaka seeking cancellation of the parliament polls slated for Jan. 5, many fear the situation in the country could become much more volatile.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on Tuesday night through a press conference urged people from all walks of life to join march toward capital Dhaka on Dec. 29 to put pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government to scrap the parliamentary elections.

Khaleda Zia made the plea at the end of the fifth spell of countrywide blockade enforced by her 18-party alliance.

Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party has vowed to resist the program and asked its leaders and activists to remain alert to prevent any attempt to create anarchy in the name of the program.

In a statement Syed Ashraful Islam, AL general secretary, has urged the countrymen to resist the program called by what he said "an evil anti-liberation force".

Another top AL leader said the government once made a mistake by allowing opposition men to hold a rally in the capital on May 5. "We cannot make the same mistake again because we could not leave the safety of the people in the hands of the opposition," AL Presidium Member Mohammad Nasim said.

Law enforcers in overnight drives reportedly detained hundreds of opposition men in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country on different charges.

Khaleda has also virtually remained confined to her residence as detectives and uniformed policemen surrounded her residence.

A large contingent of police personnel were seen Friday in and around Khaleda Zia's Gulshan residence and her political office.

BNP Vice President Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told Xinhua on Friday evening that "We're not allowed to meet her (Khaleda Zia). They (government) are hatching conspiracy to foil our Dec. 29 march for democracy."

"She has been under virtual house arrest since the announcement of the long march program schedule."

Law enforcers on Wednesday night reportedly arrested two senior BNP leaders including a current lawmaker as they wanted to meet Khaleda Zia.

A police official who did not like to be named said "It's that security measures have been enhanced in and around her home. But he said it is to ensure more safe and security of the opposition leader in the wake of the volatile political situation but expressed reluctance to reply to a question whether she is confined.

He also denied the allegation that the BNP leaders were detained outside Khaleda Zia's home in Dhaka's diplomatic enclave Gulshan on Wednesday because they wanted to meet her.

Through a video message Khaleda Zia on Friday evening urged countrymen to march towards Dhaka. "I urge all to converge in the capital city on Dec. 29 to save democracy though I can't join it."

Senior BNP leader Osman Faruk told reporters Friday that Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has not yet given permission to opposition BNP for staging a march after rally in front of its headquarters in Dhaka's downtown Naya Paltan area on Dec. 29.

Khaleda Zia from Tuesday night press briefing threatened to wage more tougher movement if the government creates any obstacle to her party's "March for Democracy".

Khaleda has blamed Hasina's AL party for political current deadlock, saying the cancellation of a non-party caretaker government system is at the root of all the political crisis in the country.

She termed the elections slated for Jan. 5 as a "farce" to ensure the continuation of the power of the Hasina government in the name polls.

Khaleda Zia's BNP and its 17 allies including key Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party have asked Hasina to bring back a non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Some 21 opposition parties including BNP are boycotting the elections over Hasina's refusal for non-party interim government to oversee the elections.

Hasina's AL party ruled out Khaled's calls for cancelling the Jan. 5 polls.

"Parliamentary elections must be held to continue democratic process," Senior AL Leader Amir Hossain Amu told reporters shortly after Khaleda's briefing on Tuesday.

"It's not a sham election."

Khaleda's 18-party opposition alliance has enforced prolonged blockades after the Election Commission on Nov. 25 announced the schedule for the 10th parliamentary polls. Scores of people including ruling and opposition men were dead and hundreds others injured in wide spread violence since Nov. 26.

Against this backdrop, tens of thousands of Bangladesh troops have begun to deploy across the country ahead of parliamentary polls.

The Bangladesh Election Commission on Dec. 20 announced to deploy troops for 15 days from Dec. 26 as part of beefed up security measures to hold the parliamentary polls peacefully.

Sources said around 50,000 army personnel are being deployed.

The European Union, the Commonwealth and the United States have already announced that they would send poll observers to the country.

Editor: Fu Peng
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