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Bangladesh opposition alliance boycotts polls set for January 5

DHAKA--Bangladesh's opposition alliance Monday confirmed its boycott of a January general election, failing to register candidates before a deadline for nominations and plunging the country into renewed political uncertainty.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) announced the decision amid growing street violence that has left 52 people dead since late October and a series of strikes and blockades that have paralyzed large parts of the country.

“There is no question of us filing nominations for the Jan. 5 election under the present circumstances. We're not going to take part in the Jan. 5 elections,” Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, a BNP vice president, told AFP.

Nominations closed at 5 p.m. (1100 GMT) Monday and officials said no BNP officials had filed their papers.

The announcement on Nov. 25 of the election date further fuelled unrest, with 22 of the 52 deaths occurring since then.

Two people died on Monday in western Bangladesh during clashes between hundreds of BNP supporters and ruling party activists, police said.

The BNP on Monday extended its 72-hour nationwide transport blockade until Thursday afternoon to press its demands, party spokesman Salahuddin Ahmed said in a video statement from an undisclosed location.

Chowdhury said the BNP and its 17 smaller allies including the country's largest Islamic party would only change their minds on the election boycott “if the polls are organized by a non-party, neutral government.”

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