Bangladesh's main opposition on Wednesday demanded elections under a neutral caretaker government as it staged a rally despite the government imposing a ban on all political gatherings for one month.
Deputy head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, told the rally of up to 15,000 people at the capital's Suhrawardy Udyan memorial that his party would not take part in any polls under the incumbent government.
"There will be no polls without caretaker government," he said to loud cheers, adding that the party would continue demonstrations until the government restores a neutral caretaker system of government during election time.
The caretaker system, under which a neutral administration takes over power to oversee polling, was scrapped by the government, led by the Awami League party.
The next general election is due in January 2014.
The rally was the first by the opposition after the government on May 19 slapped a ban on political meetings and gatherings for a month in the wake of deadly protests by Islamists that left dozens of people dead.
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan told reporters at the time that the government "will not allow any parties to hold rallies in the next one month" in line with a bid to curb political violence.
Local police chief Sirajul Islam told AFP that between 10,000 and 15,000 people had joined the Wednesday's rally.
"It was peaceful," he said, adding that the Dhaka Metropolitan Police had approved the rally, but that he was unsure whether it meant that the government ban had been lifted.