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Unrest in Bangladesh

More than one hundred were injured in clashes between protestors and police in Bangladesh, and one protestor and one police officer died. The protests were organized by an alliance of fourteen opposition parties, led by the Awami League. These opposition parties are calling for election reforms before general elections are held in January 2007.

The government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is required by the constitution to hand over power to an interim administration in October. The interim administration will supervise the elections. The Awami League-led opposition parties argue that the interim administration will be dominated by government supporters. They are demanding the resignation of chief election commissioner M.A. Aziz, changes in how the interim government is set up, and selection of that government’s head by consensus.

Strikes, boycotts of parliament, and street protests have become a familiar feature of political life in Bangladesh.

According to the U.S. State Department's latest human rights report, "violence often resulting in deaths" has become "a pervasive element in the country's politics." According to a local human rights organization over three-hundred people were killed and nearly nine-thousand others were injured in politically motivated violence during 2005.

U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Patricia Butenis, says "With the upcoming election it is more important than ever that Bangladesh keep constant watch against threats to fundamental democracy." Violence, extremism, and intolerance should give way, she says, to "dialogue within parties and within parliament." The U.S., says Ambassador Budenis, wants for Bangladesh "the same things that most Bangladeshis want: a country free from political and terrorist violence, a strong democracy that resolves disputes through non-violent means, increased prosperity that reaches the poorest citizens, and an end to corruption that robs them of progress in these and all other areas."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.