Bangladesh leader promises vote, but no date given

The head of the military-backed government in Bangladesh says elections originally scheduled for Monday will be held as soon as possible but isn't saying when that might be.

The head ofa military-backed interim government in Bangladesh saysnational elections originally scheduled for Monday will be held "at the earliest" possible date.

In his first televised address to the nation on Sunday, U.S.-trained economist Fakhruddin Ahmedoffered no hint as to when that might be.

But his ambitious plans,including a crackdownon corruption, led oneDhaka newspaper,the New Age, to conclude thatthe vote"would come later rather than sooner."

Ahmed, whose title in the 10-day-old government is chief adviser, took office after the previous leader, interim president Iajuddin Ahmed, declared a state of emergency, postponed the elections and stepped down.

Bangladesh, adensely populatedland with much of itsareabarely above sea level, has longbeen troubled by political instability and violence.

The BBC reported fromDhaka that manypeople therebelieve the country was pulled back from the brink of anarchy by the declaration of the state of emergency.

After weeks of protests, strikes and transport blockades called by parties boycotting the elections, security forces were ordered to round up "troublemakers." Theyhave detained nearly 2,000 people, including political activists, sincethe emergency was declared, Reuters reported.

Dozenshave beenkilled and hundreds injured in the unrest, the news agency said.

Fourteen parties, including the second largest in the country, the Awami League, had launched a three-day protest on Jan. 7 to isolate the capital.

The "mega-combine," as the opposition alliance calls itself, said it plannedto block roads, railways and river routes into Dhaka until the government agreed to delay the "farcical unilateral national election" scheduled for Jan. 22.