DHAKA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) — Fears of violence grow as police cordoned off the venue where Bangladesh’s main opposition leader is scheduled to speak later Sunday.
Former Prime Minister and leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia was scheduled to address the convention, organised by Bangladesh Sammilito Peshajibi Parishad, a pro- opposition platform of professionals.
The program was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. local time in the city’s Bangabandhu International Convention Center.
Five days ahead of an anti-government rally to demand non-party caretaker system, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Saturday imposed a ban on meetings, processions and rallies in capital Dhaka from 6: 00 a.m. local time Sunday which is to remain in place until further notice, a step the opposition described as an attempt to mute dissenting voices.
Maruf Kamal Khan, BNP chairperson’s press secretary, told Xinhua that police who were assigned to ensure security of the opposition chief have not turned up.
He could not tell immediately whether the opposition chief is contemplating to defy the ban.
In protest against the ban, the main opposition party Saturday night announced that it will stage demonstrations and rallies at all district headquarters Sunday.
A senior police official on condition of anonymity said whoever defies the ban would face lawsuits.
Political standoff over the non-party caretaker government system culminated with both the ruling and opposition parties calling rallies on Oct. 25 in Dhaka to stage showdown.
BNP announced its anti-government rally on Oct. 25. Following the main opposition’s announcement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party reportedly also decided to take to the streets of Dhaka on the same day, raising fears of violence.
BNP has asked AL to bring back the caretaker system, or else it won’t participate in the next polls slated for early 2014 because it fears an election without the caretaker government will not be free and fair.
Since June 2011 when Bangladesh Parliament abolished the non- party caretaker government system after an apex court verdict declared the 15-year-old constitutional provision illegal, the BNP- led 18-party opposition alliance has been waging mass protests pushing for the reinstatement of the provision.
The scrapped provision mandated an elected government to transfer power to a non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee a new parliamentary election.