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Zia vows to continue protests till B’desh govt agrees to polls

Zia vows to continue protests till B’desh govt agrees to polls
Opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Friday stuck to her demand for a “fair and inclusive” midterm election as she vowed to continue the deadly anti-government street protests in Bangladesh saying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina could now only end the unrest by holding early polls.

“The movement will continue until a logical consequence. I urge all to accept the trouble in the greater national interest,” the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief and ex-premier said at a press conference in her second such public appearance since the beginning of the current unrest in which over 120 people have been killed since January 6.

She asked her arch rival Hasina to take immediate steps to hold a dialogue for a “fair and inclusive election” dissolving the existing parliament with a “puppet opposition” in soonest possible time to resolve the crisis saying “the key to the solution now lies in the government’s hands”.

“The country is now in a grave crisis and Sheikh Hasina is its main creator. She has pushed the country into uncertainty,” 69-year-old Zia said.

Awami League chief Hasina earlier asked Zia to wait until the scheduled 2019 polls to test her popularity but recently warned the ex-premier to prepare for legal action for killing innocent people in the name of protests.

“It is just a matter of time that she will face justice. The ordinary people are cursing her for the arson attacks while legal process is underway to expose her to justice,” Hasina said in parliament last night.

Zia’s BNP-led 20-party opposition alliance along with with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Isami launched a non-stop nationwide transport blockade on January 6, a day after the first anniversary of the divisive January 5, 2014 polls which she had boycotted saying it had lacked a “level playing field”.

At least 121 people have been killed, 66 of them in arson attacks on buses and trucks by suspected blockaders as the BNP enforced protracted general strikes to reinforce their movement while at least 1,375 vehicles were torched or damaged during the period. According to a figure tallied by mass circulation Prothom Alo, of the casualties 37 were suspected arsonists who were lynched by angry mobs or in “encounters” with security forces.

But Zia today denied any links to the arson attacks saying “the majority of the countrymen think they themselves (the government) are involved in these killings of innocent people to portray the opposition movement as Islamist”.

“We (BNP) cannot make the innocent people as targets of attacks as it would benefit those who are in power. No (government) efforts are seen to expose to justice the real culprits while propaganda against us and cases are filed against our leaders and workers,” she said. Zia also called for an international investigation into the deaths to find the real killers. 
Agencies

Agencies

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