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Transport Blockade in Bangladesh Continues amidst Demands for Fair & Free Election


Opposition protesters in Bangladesh have set fire to buses and trains in and around Dhaka during a transport blockade aimed at forcing electoral reforms.

Authorities deployed 15-thousand members of the security forces on Sunday to control the protesters.

But activists blocked roads, rail and river links leading to the capital. Demonstrators also paralyzed the port of Chittagong, a conduit for almost all of the country's foreign trade.

The protests come as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher ends a two-day trip to the country. He held talks on Sunday with President Iajuddin Ahmed, who heads the interim government, to discuss the election process.

A 14-party opposition alliance is calling for removal of the country's chief election commissioner M A Aziz and his deputies before national elections in January.

Opposition leaders accuse the commissioner of bias toward the outgoing government of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

The Awami League, the main opposition group led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, says the election system in Bangladesh is plagued by vote rigging and fraud, and that biased election officials could unfairly influence the results of January's ballot.

Nearly 30 people were killed and hundreds more were injured during clashes last month between rival political groups.

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