DHAKA, Feb. 29, Reuter: Bangladeshi opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia said on Monday she might call a massive civil disobedience campaign after this week’s election which is being boycotted by most antigovernment parties.

Khaleda, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said in an interview she was reluctant to reveal her plans but, asked about a civil disobedience campaign, said “yes, I think it will start after the third of March”,

On that date, 21 opposition parties will boycott the Parliamentary polls called by President Hossain Mohammad Ershad after he dismissed Parliament last December.

The parties have announced a 36hour general strike from 6 a.m. on Wednesday to disrupt the voting but the government moved to lessen its affect by declaring Wednesday a public holiday as well as Election Day on Thursday.

The announcement followed renewed violence around Dhaka University where students bummed vehicles to protest against the killing of three opposition activists on Sunday. Opposition leaders blamed police for the deaths.

Several homemade bombs exploded harmlessly in the capital early on Monday, while in Gazipur, 30 km of Dhaka, district officials said opposition supporters burnt down the offices of the local candidate for the ruling Jatiya Party.

Khaleda and Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina have been leading a campaign begun last November to force Ershad to resign.

Khaleda said the opposition parties might have to call an all-out strike to force a resolution to their anti-Ershad campaign.

“Burning down polling stations is not part of our plan,” she said. “We believe in peace. We do not believe in violence. We want peaceful protest”,

The opposition coalition warned that no one should vote or go to work and even Dhaka’s estimated two million cycle Rickshaws should go off the road.

But Ershad, who has said he would deploy the army to ensure peaceful voting, said on Sunday: “The election will be held on schedule and there’s no power on earth which can stop it”.

Article extracted from this publication >> March 4, 1988