Bangladesh police fired tear gas and charged with batons on demonstrators in Dhaka to break up opposition blockades for the second day trying to force a delay in elections scheduled January 22. Thousands of police and army troops patrolled the capital to control hundreds of thousands of Awami League led 14-party opposition activists taking serious umbrage to plans by President Iajuddin Ahmed and his Election Commission to continue with election plans when there are serious questions raised about their legality and credibility. Moreover, international studies have highlighted serious flaws in electoral lists stuffed with fictitious names or Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) cadre names. Business ceased to function as transportation network grinded to a halt and international trade from Chittagong collapsed.
In a series of strikes and blockades, the opposition is trying to force Ahmed to make a logical choice of postponing elections. Ahmed’s argument is that the Constitution requires elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the Parliament and that he has “no choice but to hold the election.” He says that only a national disaster would allow a postponement of elections.
So far, 35 people have been killed in the latest blockade in the poorest nation in the world with 144 million people