DHAKA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) — Bangladesh’s main opposition on Saturday called another round of nationwide non-stop 60-hour strike from Monday morning to press its demand for a non-party caretaker government to oversee the national elections slated for early 2014.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of the main opposition party, in a press briefing on Saturday made the announcement of a hartal from Nov. 4-6, demanding a free and fair election under the caretaker polls-time government.
Ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s main opposition alliance has decided to enforce the shutdown also to protest what Alamgir termed “the government’s plan to hold a one-sided election.”
Earlier, Khaleda’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led opposition alliance observed a 60-hour countrywide strike from Oct. 27 morning amid violent clashes, vandalism, arson and bomb explosions.
Over a dozen people, including ruling and opposition men, were dead and hundreds others injured in stray incidents of three-day hartal violence in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.
In an apparent move to de-escalate tension between the ruling and opposition parties, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party, on Oct. 18 proposed an all-party government be set up to hold general elections in the South Asian country. But former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has rejected the proposal.
The two leaders of the South Asian country’s politics held phone talks last Saturday, the first direct conversation between the two since January, 2009 when Hasina cabinet took oath of office.
Although both the parties are seeking dialogue to end the impasse over the formation of the polls-time government, no headway has been made so far.
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 alliance has been waging mass protests demanding for the reinstatement of the provision.
The scrapped provision mandated an elected government to transfer power to an unelected non-partisan caretaker administration to oversee a new parliamentary election on the completion of its term.
Khaleda has asked Hasina’s AL to bring back the caretaker system, or else it won’t participate in the next polls because it fears an election without the caretaker government will not be free and fair.
The parliament is due to expire on Jan. 24 next year and elections reportedly should be held within 90 days before its expiry.