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Friday, 29 June, 2001, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Bangladesh premier sets handover date
Police on Dhaka streets
The are fears that violence could mar the elections
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has confirmed that she will hand over power to a caretaker government in just over two weeks to pave the way for elections.

In comments reported by the state-run BSS news agency, Sheikh Hasina said she would advise President Shahabuddin to form an interim administration on 9 July after her government's last cabinet meeting.

"I will hand over power on 15 July," she said.

The elections are likely to be held in September or October, and will pitch Sheikh Hasina against the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by former premier Khaleda Zia.

Violence

The caretaker government is to be led by Chief Justice Latifur Rahman, according to BSS.

Bomb attack near Dhaka
A recent attack left 22 people dead
Under the constitution, an interim administration has to be formed to ensure a free and fair vote.

Previous elections in the country have been marred by violence and accusations of vote rigging.

Earlier this month, 22 people were killed in a bomb attack at an office of the ruling Awami League near the capital, Dhaka.

There have been a number of such attacks in recent months, leading to expressions of concern abroad.

Concern

Last week, the US State Department condemned the bomb attacks in Bangladesh, and on Thursday the European Union said it was "deeply concerned" over long-running political violence in the county.

The country has also suffered repeated strikes called by the opposition in an attempt to force the government to call early elections rather than serve out its full term of office.

Sheikh Hasina is the first prime minister in Bangladesh's history to serve out her term.

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See also:

19 Jun 01 | South Asia
US condemns Bangladesh violence
17 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh hunts party office bombers
03 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh church bomb kills nine
01 Apr 01 | South Asia
Violence hits Bangladesh
24 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
14 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh bomb: Man arrested
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