Bangladesh's president declared a state of emergency Thursday, postponed the January 22nd national elections and stepped down as head of the interim government.
Iajuddin Ahmed also appointed his senior advisor, Fazlul Haque, as acting chief of the interim government, but said he will retain the largely ceremonial post of president.
In a speech to the nation, Mr. Ahmed said he had resigned as the government's chief advisor to pave the way for an election in which all political parties can participate. He did not announce a new date.
Bangladesh has been in the grip of pre-election violence since late last year, with more than 40 people killed in a series of protests and blockades.
An opposition alliance led by the Awami League accused the caretaker government and electoral commission of rigging the polls in favor of the former ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party. It said it would boycott the ballot.
Mr. Ahmed's decision came after the United Nations said it is withdrawing all technical support for the elections. The European Union and two international observer groups have decided against monitoring the polls.
Earlier this week, thousands of Awami supporters brought the capital, Dhaka, to a standstill for three consecutive days. More than 200 people were injured in clashes between riot police and protesters.
Also Thursday, Britain's foreign office advised its citizens against "all but essential" travel to the South Asian nation following the declaration of the state of emergency.
A ministry statement said there is a high threat from terrorism in Bangladesh.