Bangladesh Opposition Launches Hunger Strike

Posted July 13th, 2011 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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Bangladeshi opposition members launched an eight-hour hunger strike in the capital Wednesday as part of their ongoing protest against a constitutional amendment they say will allow the ruling party to cling to power.

There were not any immediate reports of violence during the protest in Dhaka.

Last week, clashes between security personnel and demonstrators wounded at least 20 people in several parts of the country. A senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Zainal Abdin Farooque, was hospitalized in Dhaka with head injuries. Several BNP members were also arrested during the clashes.

Home Minister Sahara Khatun has warned the government will do whatever is necessary to maintain order.

The BNP and its allies, including the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami, are protesting last month's parliamentary approval of a constitutional amendment that scraps a system of holding national elections under a non-partisan caretaker government.

Lawmakers from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League party passed the amendment in a June 30 vote boycotted by the BNP.

Opposition members accuse Ms. Hasina of amending the constitution to keep her party in power through fraud, rather than allowing non-partisan technocrats to oversee Bangladesh's next elections.

The country's supreme court has ruled that the system of installing 90-day interim administrators to supervise elections is unconstitutional.