Opposition took to the streets
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP):
Hundreds of opposition protesters rallied yesterday in Bangladesh's capital to demand that authorities release 33 of their leaders and find a missing opposition official.
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia led the protest in downtown Dhaka as the activists staged a six-hour symbolic hunger strike. The protesters chanted, "Down with the autocratic government!" and "Free our leaders!"
Similar protests took place in all major cities and towns across the country yesterday.
The 18-party opposition alliance, led by Zia, accuses the government of manipulating courts and of abducting one of its leaders, Elias Ali. The government denies the allegations.
Last Thursday's bomb blasts and arrests occurred as the alliance enforced a nationwide general strike protesting a court order rejecting bail for 33 jailed opposition leaders in an arson case. The leaders include former Cabinet ministers and the acting secretary-general of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The opposition says the arson charge is politically motivated.
The opposition has also set a June 10 ultimatum for the government to restore a caretaker government system to oversee national elections due in 2014.