Extreme tension in Dhaka; government determined to thwart opposition mass gathering (PICTURES)

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Tension rises in the capital and all across the country as the BNP-led 18-party alliance prepare to commence its scheduled ‘March for Democracy’ programme. The opposition activists are set to arrive at the city’s Nayapaltan BNP head office today amidst threats by the ruling party activists.   The ruling party activists were earlier asked to take to the street with batons to prevent the opposition from gathering at Paltan.   The BNP led opposition stated yesterday that it is determined to carry out the protest despite government hostilities. The opposition is now trying to exert full pressure on the current regime to cancel the upcoming 10th national election scheduled to take place on January 5.   The opposition demands that the government arrange the election under a non-partisan interim administration, more commonly called a caretaker government. An election under the current regime will not be acceptable, says the opposition.     The government is having trouble getting major international bodies and countries to observe the election. The European Union, the Commonwealth, the United States, and Russia all have refused to send observers.   The Nayapaltan area has already been barricaded from all sides and all access in the area has been blocked well ahead of the scheduled time for the rally.   Party sources said the BNP chairperson has asked the senior leaders to be there in front of Nayapaltan by 10:00 am to start the programme.   Meanwhile, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in a statement on Saturday night alleged that their chairperson Khaleda Zia has been confined to her Gulshan residence after her police protocol was suddenly withdrawn by the government.     Earlier, he accused the government of putting the city under virtual siege to thwart the opposition’s peaceful programme and voiced their firm determination to hold it at any cost.    Some other opposition leaders threatened that if the protesters face resistance they will fight back. The ruling party said its activists will be out there in the streets with sticks to resist the opposition men for protecting the capital.   The Dhaka Metropolitan police (DMP) has reportedly decided to go on an ‘arrest on sight policy’ if the opposition activists try to move toward Paltan.     Opposition leader Khaleda Zia at a press conference on Tuesday announced the public showdown programme urging people from all walks of life to march towards Dhaka on Sunday carrying the national flag.   The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Friday rejected BNP’s request for allowing it to hold the rally in the city.   In a video message on Friday, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia urged the county’s people to make the programme a success with their spontaneous participation and overcome all obstacles and barriers to attend.   Meanwhile, communications from and to the capital with several districts remained blocked since Friday morning as bus and ship services have been suspended at the behest of the local administration to foil the March for Democracy protest.   The movement of all types of public transport, including bus, train and launch, between capital Dhaka and other parts of the country virtually came to a halt on Saturday.   Besides, law enforcers arrested several hundred BNP leaders and activists from different parts of the country, including over 200, in the capital and 80 in Chittagong on Saturday.   The 18-party opposition alliance is likely to announce its fresh action programme from the rally to resist the January-5 election.     The law-enforcement agencies, including members of police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), have been put on red alert.   The police and RAB have set up check-posts at all entry and exit points in and around the capital to prevent protesters coming in.

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Source: http://www.bdchronicle.com/detail/news/32/3329#sthash.p0QbZDTQ.dpuf

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