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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 07:58 GMT
Four Bangladesh ministers resign
Bangladeshi troops on the streets of Dhaka
The ministers protested against deployment of troops
Four members of Bangladesh's interim cabinet have resigned in protest at the decision to deploy the army ahead of January's general elections.

President Iajuddin Ahmed ordered troops onto the streets on Saturday to put an end to days of protests by campaigners from the opposition.

They are demanding changes they say are necessary for free and fair elections.

Despite the deployment, the opposition Awami League has pledged more protests before the nation votes on 23 January.

The government said it had made the decision in order "to protect public life and property".

But one of the four ministers, Sultana Kamal, said the situation did not warrant such measures.

Akbar Ali Khan, Hasan Mashud Chowdhury and CM Shafi Sami also resigned.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Dhaka says the resignation of four members of his temporary cabinet is a major blow to Bangladeshi president.

Mr Ahmed is looking increasingly isolated, ruling a country that's lurching from crisis to crisis, he says.

Biased

The army deployment came after the opposition Awami League and its allies held several nationwide blockades in recent weeks to demand election reforms.

The opposition says the list of people entitled to vote is out of date and that some members of the election commission are biased towards the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

The most recent nationwide blockade of roads and railways in Bangladesh was suspended last Monday after two days of disruption.

Supporter of the opposition Awami League in Dhaka. File photo
Awami League supporters have held daily protests

Last week, the electoral commission said the vote, originally set for 21 January, would be delayed by two days because of continuing political turmoil.

Khaleda Zia ended her five-year tenure as prime minister on 28 October, handing power to a caretaker administration headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

At least 44 people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes across the country since her tenure expired.

Under the Bangladeshi constitution, a caretaker government must hold elections within 90 days of taking power.


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Bangladesh army deployed to maintain public order



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03 Dec 06 |  South Asia
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22 Nov 06 |  South Asia
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21 Nov 06 |  South Asia
Country profile: Bangladesh
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