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Crisis Talks Continue in Bangladesh


Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed has begun a second day of talks with government and opposition figures to try to resolve a stalemate over who should head the country's interim administration.

The talks were set up after a former Supreme Court Justice, K. M. Hasan, declined the post following widespread riots over his appointment. Protesters said he was biased toward the government.

The first meeting took place Saturday amid violent protests between rival political activists that have claimed at least 14 lives and injured hundreds of people since Friday.

That meeting stalled when the opposition rejected the president's offer to head the caretaker administration.

Clashes have subsided, but thousands of protesters are still blocking streets Sunday as they wait to see who will lead the country until January elections.

Twenty-nine retired Army officers issued a statement Saturday calling on the president to follow the constitutional process in making the appointment.

They pointed out that the country was in a dangerous crisis and urged the military and civil administration to play an impartial role in preserving the security and interests of the nation.

The crisis began after Prime Minister Khaleda Zia gave her farewell address Friday. Her final days in power were marred by political turmoil. At least 24 politicians, including several lawmakers and ministers, defected from the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party Thursday to start a new party.

Former president Badruddoza Chowdhury and Oli Ahmed, a former minister with the ruling party, head the newly formed Liberal Democratic Party. It accuses the government of widespread corruption.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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