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Political Violence in Bangladesh Leaves Five Dead, 100 Injured

A transition of power in Bangladesh is being delayed amid clashes between rival political activists that have left at least five people dead and 100 others injured.

The violence erupted after Prime Minister Khaleda Zia finished her televised farewell address to the nation Friday evening, calling for peace.

Mrs. Zia spoke shortly before her planned transfer of power to an interim government that will oversee the January elections.

The main opposition Awami League has threatened to paralyze the country Saturday with a transport strike if Mrs. Zia appoints retired chief justice K.M. Hasan as the head of the caretaker administration. The opposition says Hasan is biased in favor of the government.

The swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Saturday was thrown into doubt after a presidential press secretary, Moklesur Rahman Chowdhury, said Hasan was too ill to attend.

Meanwhile, opposition protesters blocked a key highway connecting the capital, Dhaka, with the southeastern port city of Chittagong, while sporadic violence continued.

The outgoing prime minister's final days in power were marked 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, which accuses the government of widespread corruption.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.