A longstanding, bitter rivalry between the two main political parties in Bangladesh has led to widespread unrest, leaving a country typically perceived as a moderate Muslim democracy in a state of chaos. The political crisis threatens to roll back modest reforms in a country still riven by poverty and corruption.
The opposition alliance, led by the Awami League party, has imposed nationwide blockades and called for electoral reform. It accuses the ruling, right-wing Bangladesh National Party (BNP) of machinations to rig the upcoming January 2007 parliamentary elections. Protests began again when the central electoral commission announced a January 21 date for those elections, despite opposition requests to first investigate mass irregularities in voter rolls.