Bangladesh in state of emergency

Jan. 11, 2007 at 1:10 PM

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Violence and a collapse of international credibility in forthcoming elections led Bangladesh's caretaker president to declare a state of emergency Thursday.

President Iajuddin Ahmed announced overnight curfews in Dhaka and more than 60 other cities hours after the United Nations and European Union said they were pulling observers out of the country before Jan. 22 elections, the BBC reported.

The main Awami League-led alliance had announced plans to boycott the general elections over allegations of widespread vote rigging. The Awami League alleges the electoral register is incomplete, inaccurate and biased in favor of its rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which left office in October.

Several weeks of violence left 40 people dead, and on Wednesday, Ahmed deployed thousands of army troops and paramilitary forces were across the country to put down violent demonstrations, the Press Trust of India reported.

The United Nations issued a statement Thursday prior to pulling election observers, saying, "The political crisis ... has severely jeopardized the legitimacy of the electoral process." That was echoed by an EU statement in its decision not to participate.

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