Bangladesh's main opposition enforced 36-hour strike starts amid tight security

15:16, June 12, 2011      

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A 36-hour countrywide strike of Bangladesh's main opposition party and its key ally in protest against the government move to annul the non-party caretaker government system has got under way amid tight security measures.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh Friday called for the non-stop hartal, which was also supported by a platform of Islamic scholars, starting from Sunday 6:00 a.m. loca time.

Most of the shops and business establishments in the city remained closed in the early hours of the lockdown, which is the BNP's first 36-hour non-stop hartal and the sixth general strike since the Bangladesh Awami League-led alliance assumed the office in January 2009.

BNP's acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has also shown the government's failure to check price hike, recent share market crash and improve law and order situation, power-gas- water crises as reasons of the strike.

Movement of motorized vehicles, including bus, private car and auto-rickshaw were thin, but a large number of rickshaws were seen on the roads. No inter-district buses left the terminals in capital Dhaka. But the authorities claimed train and flight operations were as usual.

Bangladesh's elite force Rapid Action Battalion and riot police have been guarding the streets in the capital Dhaka as pre-hartal violence on Saturday evening almost marred the normal life in the city.

As many as nine vehicles, including seven buses, were reportedly set ablaze on the eve of the lockdown in Dhaka while mobile courts reportedly jailed 56 people in the city on charges of obstructing government actions through various programs.

During the early hours of the lockdown Sunday, police also reportedly picked up 15 leaders and activists of BNP and its associated bodies, including Hafiz Uddin Ahmed and Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, two former ministers, in the city.

Earlier BNP and its ally Jamaat observed a 12-hour strike on June 5, just a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said there is no scope to keep the non-party caretaker government system to hold parliamentary elections as the Supreme Court declared it illegal.

BNP chief Khaleda Zia, also a former prime minister of the country, at a news briefing on June 4 vowed to give non-stop programs if the government did not give up its plan to repeal the non-party government system to hold a free and fair election in the country.

Bangladesh, which has a history of frequent electoral fraud and violence, in 1990 introduced the caretaker government system in which the country is ruled by a selected government for an interim period (90 days) during transition from one government to another, after the completion tenure of the former.

As the outgoing government hands over their power, the caretaker government comes into place and its main objective is to create an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government.

Source: Xinhua
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