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Bangladesh Nationalist Party Calls for Strike Ahead of Elections

The opposition in Bangladesh called for a 48-hour general strike Saturday, the eve of national elections.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP - has said it will boycott Sunday's poll, a move that undermines the legitimacy of the election. The ruling Awami League is a sure winner at the polls without BNP's participation. Awami League candidates are running unopposed in more than half of the country's parliamentary constituencies.

More than 50 polling facilities have been burned down since Friday. Saturday, only a few people moved around the capital, Dhaka, which has experienced several closings and strikes in recent weeks.

The boycott and other anti-government moves by the opposition make it unlikely the election will stem a wave of political violence that has killed more than 150 people in recent months.

BNP and some of its allies want Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to step down and appoint a neutral caretaker administration to oversee the election. The prime minister has refused to step aside.



BNP leader Khaleda Zia, who is a former prime minister, has called Sunday's vote a "farce" and has accused the government of placing her under house arrest.

Tens of thousands of troops have been deployed across Bangladesh to stem the tide of political violence.

The United States, the European Union and the Commonwealth have refused to send observers to monitor the election.

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