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Dhaka threatens to bring out army

Dhaka, Nov. 12 (Reuters): Bangladeshi authorities said today they would use troops to help keep order after protesters demanding the removal of election commissioners paralysed much of the country with a violent transport blockade.

A man was killed and 50 others were injured during the first day of the blockade, which cut off Dhaka from the rest of the country, shut ports and paralysed the main cities, police and witnesses said.

President Iajuddin Ahmed met army commanders last week as a 14-party alliance led by Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina announced plans to paralyse the country through transport blockades and other protests unless Iajuddin removed chief election commissioner M.A. Aziz and his deputies before November 12.

The alliance says the commission officials are biased towards the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Begum Khaleda Zia, whose term as Prime Minister ended last month.

The BNP denies the officials are biased, and has accused the Awami League of trying to push the country into anarchy and sabotage elections due in January 2007.

Iajuddin is heading the interim administration.

The home ministry issued a note to district administrations stating: “The government has decided to deploy the army to assist civil administration in the wake of the current law and order situation.”

Activists set fire to at least five railway carriages and a bus on the outskirts of Dhaka.

“We have instructed our followers to paralyse the country... including ports, buses, trains and ferries,” Awami general secretary Abdul Jalil told reporters.

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