B`desh oppn extends nationwide strike as deadline approaches
Dhaka: Bangladesh main opposition party BNP and its rightwing allies have extended a 72-hour nationwide strike for two more days demanding the postponement of polls, even as the deadline to file nomination papers ends today.
"The blockade will now continue till 5:00 p.M. Thursday," BNP spokesperson and joint secretary general Salahuddin Ahmed said in messages sent to media houses.
The opposition protest, which was scheduled to end tomorrow, would virtually paralyse the country straight for the second week, even as death toll in the last two-week`s of political violence rose to 28.
The extension came as the deadline to file nomination papers for the upcoming January 5 elections expires today.
BNP had said it would not nominate candidates until settlement of the dispute over the election time government.
The ruling Awami League and BNP are at loggerheads over the system for conducting the polls. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formed a multi-party interim set-up while the BNP wants elections under a non-party interim government.
The opposition led by BNP is demanding that the polls should be shelved until the dispute is settled.
The crisis prompted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to warn that Bangladeshi politicians might face prosecution at the International Criminal Court.
"In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts - including political leadership - have faced prosecution," Pillay said yesterday.
"In the past week, we have seen acts as extreme as protestors throwing molotov cocktails onto public buses without allowing the occupants to escape, leaving women and children with horrific burns," she said, as one more person died overnight taking the toll to 28 since last week.
Her comments came ahead of a high-level UN political mission`s visit to Dhaka this week for talks with AL and BNP.
UN secretary general Ban-Ki-moon took new initiatives last week to end the political deadlock sending letters afresh to Prime Minister Hasina and her arch-rival BNP chief Khaleda Zia as the political deadlock resulted in widespread violence.
BNP`s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir last night asked the Election Commission to shelve the polls plan until settlement of their dispute with the AL.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed said yesterday "anything is possible" if the political parties reach a consensus but added that otherwise the commission would go ahead with the polls plan.
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