Dec. 29 - Clashes erupt in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka between pro- and anti-government protesters ahead of elections. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Violent clashes erupted in Bangladesh Sunday as opposition supporters took to the streets to protest against a Jan. 5 general election which they are boycotting. Clashes were seen erupting at the Supreme Court compound between pro-government activists and lawyers denouncing the legitimacy of the planned vote, as well as journalists who had rocks thrown at their rally at the National Press Club. The leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia, called for a march on the capital, Dhaka, in defiance of a police ban to protest against what she calls the "farcical" election. Dozens of police were deployed late on Saturday (December 28) to stop former premier Khaleda from leaving her house, and were seen stopping media from getting near her house after she was barred from attending the march. Khaleda said the "march for democracy" would go on Monday (December 30). One person was killed as police opened fire to disperse protesters throwing stones and crude bombs in central Dhaka and a railway guard was killed in a blast at a city station, police said. Security forces were seen using water cannons against the lawyers' protest. Opposition party officials say hundreds of their supporters have been detained across the country over recent days and Dhaka is virtually cut off as authorities suspended bus, rail and ferry services into the city. Violence has gripped the country as Hasina and her ruling Awami League press ahead with vote. The opposition says it will not take part in the vote unless an interim government oversees it and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina steps down. The boycott means more than half of 300 parliament seats will go uncontested, undermining the legitimacy of the election and making it highly unlikely it will do anything to restore stability in one of the world's poorest countries. More than 200 people have been killed in political violence this year, half of them since Nov. 25 when the Election Commission announced the date for the vote.