A crippling transport blockade in Bangladesh stretched into a second day yesterday, a day after a political activist was killed amid a lingering political stalemate threatening to disrupt coming elections.
Thousands of protesters returned to the streets to block vehicle movement in the capital, Dhaka, after taking a break during the night.
Dhaka, a city of 10 million people, was cut off from rest of the country after protesters rallied or squatted on key streets, the private ATN Bangla TV channel reported.
Most Dhaka streets were empty of traffic except for tricycle rickshaws, which protesters allowed to operate.
A 14-party alliance run by Sheikh Hasina -- the main opposition leader during former prime minister Khaleda Zia's five-year tenure, which ended in October -- launched the indefinite nationwide transport blockade on Sunday.
The alliance is demanding changes to the Election Commission and voter list, as well as a fresh election schedule.
The alliance says the current commission and voter list favor Zia's party.
Zia's four-party coalition disputes the claim, and wants the elections to go ahead as scheduled on Jan. 21.
No violence was reported yesterday, but clashes between rival political activists left one person dead and about 50 others injured in northeastern Sylhet district on Sunday, the opening day of the indefinite protest strike.
President Iajuddin Ahmed, who heads the country's interim government, was set to meet advisors yesterday to discuss how to end the standoff, his office said.
On Sunday, three advisors from the interim government met separately with Zia and Hasina, said Information Advisor Mahbubul Alam, a member of the government delegation.
Alam said the talks with Zia were positive, and that they had "discussed issues related to holding the elections in a free and fair manner."
In the meeting with Hasina, "we openly discussed the government's position on their demands," Alam told reporters, again without giving further information.
Ahmed, charged with leading the caretaker government until the January elections, also held separate meetings on electoral reform with the political rivals on Saturday, but made no headway.
Earlier on Sunday, supporters of Zia and Hasina had fought in the streets of Sylhet, about 190km northeast of Dhaka, a police official said by telephone from the northeastern district.
Fayez Ahmed, 25, a local leader of the student wing of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was killed.
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