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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 16:02 GMT
Bangladesh election date changed
Awami League supporters have held daily protests

Elections in Bangladesh will be delayed by two days because of continuing political turmoil in the country, an election commission official has said.

A commission spokesman said the vote would now be held on 23 January, and not as planned on 21 January.

The Awami League party and its allies wanted the date to be changed so that a list of those eligible to vote in the poll could be "fairly updated".

Bangladesh is being run by a caretaker government which will oversee the vote.

"We have discussed all the disputed issues with both camps," interim government spokesman Mahbubul Alam told the Associated Press news agency.

"Both parties have agreed on some issues. We want all parties to join the election race to advance the country's democracy."

Rickshaw rider in Dhaka
The blockade caused major disruption in Dhaka

There was no immediate word from the Awami League or its main rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), over the changed schedule.

The original election date was part of a schedule unveiled last month by the caretaker government.

Room for delay in holding the poll is tight as the interim government's mandate expires on 25 January.

"We were running out of time," election commission secretary Abdur Rashid Sarkar said.

Blockades

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

The Awami League and its allies have held four nationwide blockades since 27 October as part of a campaign for election reforms ahead of the vote.

They say that the list of people entitled to vote is out of date and that some members of the election commission are biased towards the BNP of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

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

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

Correspondents say that at least 44 people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes between rival activists across the country since her tenure expired.




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Timeline: Bangladesh
06 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
28 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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