Bangladesh's opposition to march to country's civil administration

Bangladesh's opposition alliance pledged Wednesday to march 100,000 supporters to the country's civil administration headquarters in the capital to demand electoral reform and the government's resignation, a spokesman said.

The country's main opposition Awami League party and 13 allies have planned to swarm the headquarters in downtown Dhaka on Thursday, despite a police ban on political rallies in the area, alliance spokesman Abdul Jalil told reporters.

Police commissioner S.M. Mizanur Rahman said in a statement the 24-hour ban was imposed to maintain a "peaceful atmosphere" near the administration's headquarters.

Jalil vowed to ignore the ban. "The government is using the police administration to repress opposition supporters, but we will go ahead with our plan," he said.

He threatened to call a nonstop general strike if the government cracked down on Thursday's planned mass demonstration.

General strikes are common opposition tactics in Bangladesh, a nation of 140 million people with a parliamentary democracy, to embarrass the government.

The opposition parties have accused the government of influencing the country's election commission in a bid to win the next general elections, due in January 2007. They have demanded the resignation of three commissioners in the five-member body for allegedly trying to create new voter lists that would favor the ruling coalition.

Jalil said Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's administration has failed to fulfill people's expectations, and corruption has gripped the nation unabated since the new government came to power in 2001, reports the AP.

I.L.