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Bangladesh Opposition Leads 2nd Day of Strikes

Police arrest an activist of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during a protest in Dhaka. A 48-hour countrywide strike called by the main opposition BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical Islamist group, continues on Thursday, July 7, 2011

An anti-government strike has continued for a second day in Bangladesh, where opposition members are protesting a constitutional amendment they say will unfairly help the ruling party stay in power.

Schools and businesses remained closed across the country Thursday, and the strike continued to affect transportation.

In the capital, Dhaka, 12,000 security personnel were deployed a day after police say they arrested at least 21 protesters.

At least 20 people were injured Wednesday as security personnel and demonstrators clashed in several parts of the country. A senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Zainal Abdin Farooque, was hospitalized with head injuries, and police arrested several BNP members.

Home Minister Sahara Khatun has warned the government will do whatever is necessary to maintain order.

The BNP and its allies, including the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami, are protesting last month's parliamentary approval of a constitutional amendment that scraps a system of holding national elections under a non-partisan caretaker government.

Lawmakers from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League party passed the amendment in a June 30 vote boycotted by the BNP.

Opposition members accuse Hasina of amending the constitution to keep her party in power through fraud, rather than allowing non-partisan technocrats to oversee Bangladesh's next elections.

The country's supreme court has ruled the system of installing 90-day interim administrators to supervise elections is unconstitutional.

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