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BNP boycotts poll filing, extends strike

Dhaka, Dec 2 (PTI): Bangladesh was plunged into fresh uncertainty today as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Right-wing allies did not file nominations for the January 5 polls, sticking to their stance of boycotting the elections over the failure to form a neutral interim government.

The 18-party Opposition alliance also extended a 72-hour nationwide strike for two more days over postponement of polls.

The protest extension comes as the deadline for submitting nomination papers ended today. The BNP said it would not nominate candidates until the Awami League accepted its demand for polls to be held under a non-party government.

“The blockade will now continue till 5pm on Thursday,” BNP spokesperson Salahuddin Ahmed said in a statement.

Opposition protests have virtually paralysed the country for two weeks and the death toll in recent political violence has touched 29.

The violence continued unabated today as a minister had a narrow escape when assailants hurled crude bombs on his vehicle while another’s house was attacked.

Media reports said the coalition would boycott the election. However, Opposition sources preferring anonymity said they will announce their stance after a UN “political mission” arrives here on December 6 to mediate the crisis.

It has prompted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to warn that Bangladeshi politicians might face prosecution at the International Criminal Court. “In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts have faced prosecution,” Pillay said.

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