Police in Bangladesh have announced a ban on all political gatherings in the capital, Dhaka, as the opposition presses demands for the removal of the country's chief election commissioner.
Authorities imposed the ban as a 14-party alliance threatened to call a nationwide transport strike unless the interim government fires Chief Election Commissioner M.A. Aziz by Sunday. The opposition says the commissioner is biased, and it fears he could unfairly influence the results of an upcoming election in January.
The main opposition Awami League alliance says that unless its demands are met, its supporters will paralyze the nation by cutting all Dhaka's road, rail and river links with the rest of the country.
A senior U.S. State Department official urged Bangladesh's rivals to refrain from violence in the period leading up to the election. Following talks with officials in Dhaka on Saturday, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher called on all sides to ensure a peaceful, free and fair election.
Elections in Bangladesh have in the past been violent and marred by allegations of voter intimidation and vote rigging.