Bangladesh was paralyzed on Sunday as the former opposition party Awami League (AL)-led 14-party combine enforced a countrywide indefinite transport blockade to force the interim government to meet its demands for holding a free and fair election.
The combine has been demanding resignation of the head of the caretaker government, cancellation of the election schedule, updating the voter list and recasting the Election Commission (EC) for holding a credible election in the country in January 2007.
Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed, who is also head of the non-partisan caretaker government, was blamed by the combine for failing to show his neutrality even after one month he took the post of Chief Advisor of caretaker government.
The EC has announced that the country's general election will be held on Jan. 21. The 14-party combine said they will not go to the polls unless the EC corrects the voter list, which the combine said had millions of fake voters.
The combine also accused that the EC is headed by all the men supporting its arch rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party alliance. With these men on the top post of EC, no elections will be clean, the combine said.
The 14-party combine has enforced its fourth phase of blockade from Sunday by shutting the entire country, including economic activities like export-import trades.
No inter-district transport plied on Sunday, making the country 's capital Dhaka isolated from rest of the country. Bangladesh's main southeastern Chittagong sea port also became inoperative as there was no transport movement in the country.
Educational institutions, shopping centers, private offices and share markets of the country were shut. The government office and banks worked with limited staff.
The first day of the fourth phase of blockade passed off peacefully and there was no major violence, except a few chase and counter chase between the activists of the combine and security personnel.
The government posted heavy security personnel to maintain peace. The combine has enforced three indefinite blockades since Oct. 28 during which street violence left 36 people killed and hundreds wounded.
In Bangladesh non-party neutral caretaker government organizes the general elections since 1996.
The Bangladeshi president took over the post of Chief Advisor of caretaker government on Oct. 29 as five-year tenure of BNP-led four-party alliance government ran out on Oct. 27.