The opposition firm on demand for a non-party caretaker government.

The opposition in Bangladesh has threatened to ‘cripple’ the country from the very moment a schedule for the next parliamentary polls is announced if it doesn’t meet their demand for a non-party caretaker government.

The threat came on Friday when the Election Commission said it is likely to announce the schedule for the 10th general election on Monday, November 25. The election might be held in the first week of January though the date of voting was not yet finalised, said Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz.

“The country would be made paralysed from the very moment when the schedule is declared,” acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said while addressing a rally in Dhaka on Friday to protest formation of the poll-time cabinet headed by Sheikh Hasina. “All our options have closed… Independence and democracy will be ruined if this government comes back to power,” the opposition leader told the party supporters.

The opposition, led by BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, has enforced violent hartals in recent weeks which killed at least 30 people and injured thousands. They inflicted a heavy blow to the country’s economy.

The gazette notification on portfolio distribution in the interim government was distributed on Thursday.Four parties, including H. M. Ershad’s Jatiya Party,Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), joined. Thirty former ministers, including Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Home Affairs Minister M.K. Alamgir, have been from the interim cabinet, designed to supervise the next national election.

Headed by Sheikh Hasina, it was formed in the backdrop of continued political crisis over the specific structure of a poll-time dispensation. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who had earlier rejected Sheikh Hasina’s request to join the interim cabinet, had also sought President Abdul Hamid’s intervention to sort out differences.

Several ministers said the option to hold a dialogue was still open but added there would be no scope for it once the poll schedule is announced.