DHAKA, Jan. 23, Reuter: A series of Opposition-led strikes in Bangladesh aimed at blocking a Parliamentary election ended on Saturday with at least 30 members of the ruling Jatiya Party declining to file their nomination papers.
Shops, factories and banks remained closed until the end of the 12hour strike, but most forms of transport were operating.
Twenty one Opposition parties had called the stoppage to impede the filing of nomination papers for the March 3 Parliamentary elections, which they have vowed to Boycott.
Ruling Jatiya Party sources said at least 30 of their members, who were nominated to contest the polls, did not file their documents with election officials.
They included Salahuddin Quader Choudhury and Anwar Zahid, who resigned on Thursday from the Cabinet of President Hossain Mohammad Ershad.
Both men said they disagreed with Ershad over holding elections while the main Opposition is boycotting them.
They said the President lacked sincerity in attracting them to the polls.
Jatiya Secretary General Shah Moazzem Hossain was not available for comment but one of his aides said the 28 others also declined to seek elections for similar reasons.
“But I don’t think it will create any problems for us. Some independents who have already filed their papers will now be drafted as our candidates”, the aide, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
Parliamentary police, in trucks with machineguns, patrolled the streets of Dhaka after tension grew following arrests of 30 activists on Friday.
Witnesses said police fired teargas at a crowd of about 10,000 soon after supporters of 21 parties started their march in Central Dhaka.
Opposition leaders Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia called on their followers to join another march on Saturday, but the sources said they later cancelled the plan.
The Opposition has been staging strikes, marches and protests for the past few months in an effort to force the resignation of Ershad, who seized power in a 1982 coup.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 29, 1988