Bangladesh main opposition stages mass anti-gov't strike

16:28, July 13, 2011      

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Bangladesh's main opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia Wednesday afternoon joined her party's eight- hour mass hunger strike in capital Dhaka to protest against the " oppressive policies of the government" and the abolition of a non- party caretaker government system.

Along with Khaleda, also two-time former prime minister of Bangladesh, thousands of her followers, hundreds of leaders and activists of other like-minded political parties, organizations and professional bodies have also joined the hunger strike which began at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said it is to protest against the "police attack" on the opposition leaders and activists during the 48-hour hartal on July 6 and 7 and press home their demand to continue the caretaker government system.

He said opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque and dozens of political leaders and activists were seriously injured by police during the recent 48-hour non-stop hartal.

However, a huge contingent of law enforcers have been deployed in and around the hunger strike venue near Dhaka's lush green Ramna park.

A pavilion has also been set up and a good number of banners, printed with portraits of BNP's founder Ziaur Rahman and current chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia, have been hung on and around the venue.

BNP and its allies, including key Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, have been protesting the annulment of the caretaker government system through an amendment to constitution and called general hartals on June 5, 12, 13 and July 6 and 7 to continue the system for holding next parliamentary elections.

Bangladesh Parliament on June 30 abolished the non-party caretaker government through the 15th constitution amendment, which means Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's incumbent Bangladesh Awami League-led government will stay in power during the next national elections slated for early 2014.

Hasina's ruling party that has two-thirds majority in parliament has taken move to annul the caretaker government system after the country's Supreme Court on May 10 repealed the 13th amendment in the country's constitution through which it (the caretaker system) was institutionalized in 1996.

Since 1996, the caretaker government has held elections in 2001 and 2008, which were considered by and large free and fair by local and international observers.

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.

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