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Bangladesh: Blockade Continued for a Second Day
Reports claim that M.A. Aziz may take a long leave for health reasons
Golam Mustofa Sarowar (Golam)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-22 12:51 (KST)   
On Tuesday Bangladesh was paralyzed by the second day of a transport blockade carried out at the instructions of the 14-party alliance.

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The 14-party alliance, led by the Awami League, are demanding the removal of Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz and his deputies before the elections in January. The alliance claim that the elections can not be free and fair because the officials are biased.

Trade and industry were disrupted as ports were blocked, and the main highways in the capital Dhaka and other towns and cities were closed down. Many rail and river connections were also hampered. The streets of major cities and towns were empty of cars; and shops, schools and many businesses were also closed.

In Dhaka private and autonomous offices operated partially and attendance in government offices was thin. However, Dhaka Stock Exchange continued trading.

There were stray clashes between the activists of the two opposing political coalitions. The incidents left more than 70 people injured in Dhaka, the port city of Chittagong and the northern district of Bogra.

In Chittagong at least 25 people were injured in a fight in which rocks and sticks were used as weapons. In Bogra town clashes between activists and the police left at least 30 people injured.

It is also reported that agitators put up barricade on different places in Brahmanbaria blocking rail links on the Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Chittagong routes.

In Sylhet, the blockade disrupted train and road communications but no untoward incidents were reported.

In the capital, at least three people were injured when the police baton-charged the activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League and the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, as the two rival student organizations locked in clashes on Dhaka University campus on Tuesday morning.

It was reported on Tuesday that the Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz was likely to make the decision to take a leave of absence for three months on health grounds. This would mean that he would not be in his post during the elections in January.

At the time of writing the government had yet to confirm M.A. Aziz's decision, but his opponents claimed that the story was true and that he had handed over his responsibilities to the Election Commissioner Hasan Mansur.

Political analysts firmly believe that Justice Aziz's decision to go on long leave would help the government find a workable solution to the current political standoff.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Golam Mustofa Sarowar

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