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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 October 2006, 13:11 GMT
Unrest consumes Bangladesh press
Riot police officers attempt to control a demonstration in Dhaka
At least 14 people have been killed in the demonstrations

The political unrest in Bangladesh which has led to loss of life has many newspaper commentators and editorialists wringing their hands in despair.

There are calls for the political antagonists to pull back from the brink and engineer a peaceful solution to the crisis, though there is little optimism this will happen.

The independent Bengali-language Prothom Alo fears that the future of free and fair elections is at stake and there is a chance the current crisis "could destroy the democratic process in the country".

Let us not kill democracy
Naya Diganta

It calls on both the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to "immediately direct their workers to maintain the peace".

Naya Diganta makes a similar plea: "Let us not kill democracy." It describes the present confrontation as "suicidal".

"Let us all follow peaceful methods in the changeover for the sake of democracy," says the paper, which backs Jamaat-e-Islami, part of the outgoing ruling coalition.

The News Today asks: "Which side will gain how much from this muscle flexing?"

"We just cannot help feeling sad over the common man's plight. At this moment, a reign of fear is sweeping the country."

"We hope both sides will step back from the brink and free the people from this atmosphere of suffocation and uncertainty. This is the litmus test of their patriotism. We want to see a peaceful transfer of power," concludes the paper's editorial.

The pro-Awami League Ajker Kagoj fears that the "ongoing violence would take a more serious turn" if "an acceptable solution did not emerge quickly".

No political dictionary suggests muscle-flexing and using force as the way to achieve power
Amar Desh

Another pro-Awami League paper, Jugantor, calls for "the immediate re-organization of the Election Commission" to ensure that any future election is "fair and peaceful".

Two more Awami League papers, Shangbad and Inqilab, accuse the security forces of bias in favour of the ruling coalition's supporters when handling the demonstrations.

"The fact that they remained silent when BNP-Jamaat workers attacked opposition workers cannot be acceptable by any measure," says Shangbad.

Inqilab complains they took too long to contain the violence. "People expect them to be more responsible."

'Muscle-flexing'

However, the pro-BNP Amar Desh takes a side-swipe at the Awami League: "No political dictionary suggests muscle-flexing and using force as the way to achieve power. The sooner politicians realize this, the better. The prevailing situation warrants stringent measures."

A glimmer of hope emerges in a New Age editorial. "The outgoing prime minister, Khaleda Zia, said that the alliance government would soon hand over power to the interim administration and her party would accept whatever the president decides as regards the appointment of the chief adviser."

"The signs are auspicious, indeed; however, the situation remains volatile and it is entirely unlikely that the ongoing violence will stop overnight."

The political parties should stem the tide of violence with an iron hand
The Daily Star

The Daily Star believes the decision of ex-Chief Justice KM Hasan not to accept the interim premiership "is a highly relieving development that by itself should help defuse the mounting tension in the national life".

"Although belated, we thank him for his judicious decision. If only Justice Hasan had made up his mind early on, the welter of violence in which several people lost their lives and many others were injured, could have been avoided."

"Now that a political settlement is in the offing, the political parties should stem the tide of violence with an iron hand," argues The Daily Star.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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Country profile: Bangladesh
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