With Bangladesh nearly coming to a halt due to the continuing violent blockades that ended on Thursday, the opposition alliance headed by Khaleda Zia has called yet another 72-hour blockade from 6:00 a.m. on Saturday.

The announcement of the total blockade came less than a day after the BNP-led alliance threatened with “tougher agitation” unless their demands, which include cancellation of the January 5 poll schedule, formation of a poll-time non-party interim government and release of their arrested leaders, were met in 24 hours. Jatiya Party Chairman H. M Ershad has remained adamant on not joining the polls. As seen by observers, the dramatic decision of Mr. Ershad, a longtime ally of the Sheikh Hasina-led alliance, would complicate the pre-election scenario.

The former military dictator whose Jatiya Party members had submitted their nomination letters, suddenly withdrew from the race on Wednesday.

As directed by Mr. Ershad, four of Jatiya Party’s Ministers in the ‘all-party’ Cabinet headed by Sheikh Hasina have also handed over their resignation letters to party chief, a day after he asked them to resign.

Mr. Ershad had recently quit the Awami League-led Grand Alliance but allowed his party leaders to be in the poll-time Cabinet.